In recent weeks, a high profile rape case against Alibaba in China has caused a storm on social media about “toxic” workplace culture that encourages employees to consume alcohol at work. China is becoming more aware of the problems that corporate behavior can cause. Will this mean that business drinking will be a thing of the past?
Mingxi is required to join her colleagues for drinks approximately every two weeks. This she loathes.
It’s more than just about getting a pint at the local pub.
It is often long and drawn out, with forced smiles from clients and formal toasting etiquette. And she doesn’t feel comfortable.
According to the BBC, the Guangzhou-based public relation consultant said that she is always worried about how things might get out of control.
“Sometimes, people make inappropriate sexual jokes. I have to pretend they’re funny.”
Mingxi has chosen not to go by her true name, as she does not wish her identity to be known.
She is not the only young Chinese worker who felt pressured to attend such events in China, a country that values building. GuanxiPersonal relationships, or business connections, are key for securing business deals.
After China’s long-standing tradition of binging on business alcohol, it is back in the limelight. A rape accusation was made against the senior management of Alibaba, a Chinese tech company.
A female employee’s eleven-page report of the incident that went viral last month on Weibo, claims she was raped unconscious following a “drunken evening” while on a work trip.
After accusing her superiors of ordering that she drink too much at a dinner for business, she stated she was naked and had just woken up in her hotel, with no memory of what happened.
After reviewing security footage, she stated that her manager was in her room four more times throughout the night.
Alibaba fired the manager, stating that he will “never again be hired”.
However, Chinese prosecutors are now able to provide evidence. Dropped the caseLawyers argued that the man’s “forcible imprudence” was not a crime. The police said that he would be held in detention for fifteen days as punishment, but the investigation closed.
It has caused a storm on social media – not only about the sexual harassment in the workplace but also about the toxic tradition of forcing employees to consume excessively at work and at social events.
The hashtag “how to see workplace drinking culture” was shared on Weibo more than 110mx. People have also posted their experiences with being under pressure to drink while working.
It is disrespectful to refuse.
The business culture of China and its East Asian neighbors are similar. Japan is the exception. nomikai South Korea hoesik Gatherings can also be a key component in building solid work relationships.
China is a country where the liquors are consumed during lavish banquet meals. baijiu A popular choice is the ‘Popular Drink of Choice,’ which has up to 60% alcohol.
Younger workers should respect higher-ups by toasting with alcohol. Businessmen who want to impress their clients will often do this.
According to Ms Rui Ma (a tech analyst, who attended many business dinners in China), “Generally you speak very kind words and show your appreciation for this relationship.”
You get drunker the more you toast.
Some senior managers will pressure new hires to get their drink on occasion, leaving juniors feeling sick and in pain.
Ms Ma stated, “It’s hard to say no because there is a strong sense hierarchy in China.”
It is often difficult for employees to decline invitations to dinners.
Hanyu Liu, a China market analyst at Daxue Consulting said that refusing such an invitation would be considered extremely rude and would not allow employees to progress in their careers.
Mingxi shared that she worried about getting sidelined from work if any of these gatherings were to be canceled.
They are so vital that many people use them as a way to get to the top. She said that it is not suitable for all.
2016. Officials from the government The practice was stopped by civil servantsThey are prohibited from using alcohol in official functions.
The tradition continues in most private businesses, especially when the older managers are responsible. However, there have been several high-profile incidents.
A Shenzhen security guard died in January after being pressured to drink by his boss.
The same happened to his colleague who was forced to drink heavily at the same event. He later died from alcohol poisoning.
According to local media reports, the security company paid out 5,000 yuan ($775, £576) to cover his medical expenses, while the boss involved quit.
In August 2013, a Beijing bank employee claimed he had been cursed after refusing to drink at a banquet.
After he shared the story in an internet chat group, it became public.
He noted that he saw his colleagues vomiting, and that “tipsy officials were touchy-feely towards female colleagues” during the event.
Responding, the bank said that it had confirmed that an employee was acting out of line and apologized on his behalf. The bank also stated that it had issued a warning to him and that they would reduce his salary.
The rest of the year, however, will be Kris Wu, a high-profile celebrity accused of rape, is the subject of high-profile allegationsAnother story from earlier in the year claimed coercion drinking at a meeting where young women were promised job opportunities. All allegations have been denied by Mr Wu.
The end of the disgusting tradition
Experts say the end of forced drinking is near, given the public outrage at these latest incidents.
Daxue Consulting’s Mr Liu stated to the BBC that business drinking had been a common practice for so long. However, the reason why the Alibaba case caused public outrage was due to social media.
The Chinese are extremely connected online and they have the ability to quickly destroy companies and individuals.
Companies will be even more cautious about taking any action that could lead to government intervention in the face of a continuing crackdown on many industries.
Liu stated that, “The last thing companies want to do is be in the spotlight.”
The Alibaba scandal broke and Daniel Zhang, the CEO, assured his employees through a memo that they were “staunchly against forced drinking culture”.
Soon afterward, China’s anticorruption watchdog demanded an end to this “disgusting” practice, and added an online comment that it would increase oversight over Chinese companies in order to fight it.
Liu said that China’s post-work drinking culture would change.