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Is there something about finance that prompts employees to spend the days trolling for porn? We get that credit default swaps are exotic, but sexy?
The SEC has come under fire because one of its employees' computers showed more than 1,800 attempts to access porn in a 17-day span. That's not all: More than 24 SEC employees and contractors have undergone internal investigations over the past two years after they were caught surfing porn on government computers.
The body has felt compelled to admit its obsession to Congress. The SEC has mentioned its pornographic activities in all four of the past semiannual reports sent to the Hill.
"If SEC employees are accessing porn, does that mean they're not doing their job?" said Michael Leahy, the author of "Porn @Work" and "Porn Nation" and the founder of Bravehearts, a non-profit that works to reduce demand for products of global sexual exploitation. Leahy, who experienced a 30-year addiction to porn and lost his family and job as a result, chronicles the rise of pornography in the workplace and worries that it's a big much bigger deal than the public expects.
For example, it's not just government agencies who are logging hours checking out the action. In an admittedly funny video report, a Macquarie Group analyst discusses Australian interest rates while his colleague looks at naked pictures of Miranda Kerr in the background. Both topics are Australian, but probably not the assets the interviewer was wondering about.
The bank failed to return calls for comment, but it told The Australian it was now investigating the matter. "Macquarie takes matters such as the unacceptable use of technology extremely seriously," the bank said. "Macquarie has strict policies in place surrounding the use of technology and the issue arising from today's live cross on 7 News is being dealt with internally."
Leahy believes the problem is twofold. First, senior management at various companies have buried their heads in the sand when it comes to the problem. Second, and perhaps counterintuitively, is that most firms have a zero-tolerance policy.
"If you go to HR and tell them you have a drinking problem, they'll give you hotlines and help," Leahy said. "If you say you have a porn problem, they'll get security to throw you out." The onus, then, is on the company to ensure that employees have access to workplace policies on porn as well as resources to help cope with an addiction.
Still, it's worth repeating that it's not the best career move to look at inappropriate images at work on a work computer. You really don't want to be "that guy."
To avoid that embarrassment, Leahy offers some suggestions about perusing the web at work.
1. Don't access porn. Period.
2. If you feel the need to access it compulsively, you may have an addiction. If stars like David Duchovny and Tiger Woods can get through it, so can you.
3. Avoid the grey areas. Even if the site is Victoria's Secret or Sports Illustrated, that could still be as damning as Playboy or Penthouse. Leave all personal browsing for your personal computer.
More on curbing the craving for online porn:
Write to Julie Steinberg