Alphas in the workplace: What happens when rainmakers are the ones creating the headaches.

During 12 years as discrimination and harassment counsel for the Law Society of Upper Canada, Cynthia Petersen has heard it all. Lawyers who rejected the sexual advances of a partner and got fired. “My boss keeps making these comments. What do I do?” A male lawyer has a consensual relationship with a woman working at the same firm. She dumps him, but he keeps coming to her office, asking her to take him back. “My lawyer offered to represent me for free if I sleep with him.”

There is a common thread in 151 sexual harassment complaints Ms. Petersen grappled with in a ten-year period: the alleged aggressor, in all but three cases, was a man.
The spectacular firing of Jian Ghomeshi last month raises as many questions for his employer, the CBC, as for the radio host. According to the allegations, Mr. Ghomeshi behaved like a tyrant, groping people, yes, but also asking unpaid interns to fold his laundry and wash his bathroom. One woman who worked at Q alleges that when she complained to her bosses, it was suggested she work to make a less toxic work environment.
Did the CBC protect Mr. Ghomeshi because he was so popular? Today, as new revelations surface in that case, businesses and law firms across Canada are grappling with their own version of the same challenge. What do they do when the rainmakers in a high-pressure environment sometimes fueled by combinations of alcohol, drugs and testosterone, create headaches in the workplace? Does it make a difference when these are the people bringing in lots of money?
Eugene McBurney, the chairman of GMP Securities, who has worked on Bay Street for 35 years, insists that times have changed from the 1980s and 1990s, when the trading floor was “akin to a men’s locker room.
“Are there guys involved in sex, drugs and rock and roll?” he asks. “Sure, but it doesn’t play out on the trading room floor and in the boardrooms. There is certainly bad behaviour. There are bad boys in our business and in your business.