Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Would You Lie for Me Honey?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Would You Lie for Me Honey?

Article excerpt


THE revelation that a former prominent politician asked his secretary to forge diary entries for him and has now been publicly found out may cause some secretaries to blush discreetly and re-examine the things they have done or are doing on their boss's behalf.

As secretarial job responsibilities increase, so does the level of personal support secretaries are asked to give their bosses.

A survey conducted for the career website reveals that one in five PAs has been asked to cover up her boss's long lunches from prying colleagues. One in 10 is expected to lie to the manager's partner about his or her whereabouts.

The research also found that one in 20 secretaries has been asked to fiddle expenses and one in 10 has been asked to lie to other senior company members on a manager's behalf.

So how do secretaries tackle the tricky minefield between loyalty to the boss and being asked to cover up on his behalf? Marjorie Mair, the head of adminis-tration and secretarial development for the Industrial Society, says: "Sometimes a secretary may feel that the easiest thing is to do what she or he is told, but does she really need to lie to people? If the boss doesn't want to speak to someone on the phone there's no need to lie by telling people he's not there.

Simply say, 'He's not available to speak right now.' That's not a lie.

He's involved with something else at the moment."

What about the commonest cover-up: he or she is still at home and has asked you to tell callers he's somewhere else in a meeting? Mair advises: "It's far better to say, 'He's not available right now. Is there anything I can do to help?'" Colleen Ryan, a PA in a public-sector organisation, agrees.

"My boss asked me to submit for payment to our finance department travel and hotel expenses that he'd incurred while travelling to Ireland. He also sent an invoice, again charging for his fares and hotel bill, to another organisa- tion that he had done some casual work for on the same trip.

When I queried it, he said, 'Put them through.'" The outside firm asked Ryan's boss for his tickets and receipts. …

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