On 8 October, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV published a short article on its Sina Weibo account titled “Beijing Company Makes Female Staff Kiss the Boss Every Day.” In the attached pictures, a group of women is standing in an office-like room. One of the girls appears to be kissing a man, while the other girls are watching.
According to CCTV, the pictures were taken at a brewery company in Beijing’s Tongzhou district, where more than half of the staff is female. To create a “unique company culture” and to “promote solidarity”, the company has set the rule that every morning, the time between 9:00 and 9:30 should be dedicated to “team building”. This daily ritual includes female staff standing in line to kiss the boss.
The story soon went viral on Sina Weibo. The hashtag ‘Female Staff Must Queue Up to Kiss the Boss Everyday (#女员工须每天排队吻老板) attracted 11 million reads within one day, and has become one of the top trending topics on Weibo. A video of the “kissing ritual” is also available online.
Many netizens are outraged over the story. “Old satyr”, one netizen writes: “Just because he is the boss, he feels like he has the right to command his staff to satisfy his needs. Abnormal boss, abnormal company.”
Some people also wonder why the female staff does not stand up against the kissing ritual. Although some suggest that employees sometimes just have to do things they do not like to keep their job, others believe that kissing the boss really crosses the line.
“Is it really worth it for a bit of money?”, one netizen wonders. “If you want to motivate employees, why not learn something from Japan? Bosses bow to employees every morning as a greeting there.”
Even while there are some arguments going around that the video shows an “object-passing” circle game instead of a kissing scene, not everyone is satisfied with this explanation. “If it was an ‘object-passing game’, it would not involve one single person passing something to everyone else”, one netizen argues. “It doesn’t matter if it is a kissing or object-passing game – this is extremely dirty either way”, another person comments.
Many netizens link the story to more awareness of and opposition towards sexual harassment in the workplace. As the official magazine of China Women’s Federation (中国妇联) writes on its Weibo account: “This is institutionalized sexual harassment. However nice the excuses may sound, the bad essence of [such behavior] cannot be changed; once it is turned into a rule, it becomes blunt power abuse at the workplace.”
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