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Apparently, you do need a policy for that…

German insurance firm’s reward for top employees brings to mind the Costanza defence

By Todd Humber

If George Costanza was German, he would have been the brains behind the employee recognition program at Munich Re.

Costanza, the short, stocky, slow-witted bald man on Seinfeld played by Jason Alexander, uttered the following after being confronted by his boss for having sex with a cleaning woman on his office desk:

“Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned up… you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices, and I tell you, people do that all the time.”

That’s about the only defense that comes to mind when reading about the party thrown by Munich Re, an insurance firm in Germany, in 2007 for its top salesmen — an orgy.

Yes. You read that right.

The company took its top 100 salesmen to thermal baths in Budapest, Hungary and presented them with 20 prostitutes to do “whatever they liked,” according to an anonymous employee quoted in German newspaper Handelsblatt.

News of the party surfaced last month after it was reportedly discovered by a shareholder at the annual general meeting. A spokesperson for one of Munich Re’s divisions told the BBC the people responsible for organizing the event were no longer with the company.

“It was a mistake, but we are very sure that it was a unique event,” he said. “The new people of the sales organization introduced a very personal commitment that these things should not happen again.”

A new code of conduct was also introduced.

That’s good.

Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resources management. He can be reached at 

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Todd Humber

Todd Humber is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. Follow him on Twitter @ToddHumber
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