Nipping nepotism in the bud

by | Oct 23, 2015 | News

How do you make sure you avoid unfair bias in recruitment and employment practices? Cirrus CEO Dr Simon Hayward comments in Management Today.

Your new head of social media has just been introduced. She seems pretty smart but it turns out she’s the IT director’s niece, and only graduated three months ago. Tongues are wagging and there’ve been a couple of pointed comments on Glassdoor. Should you be doing something about nepotism?

Know what it is. ‘Nepotism is where the power to make a decision is combined with bias,’ says Ksenia Zheltoukhova, research adviser at the CIPD. The beneficiary could be family, a friend or even someone from your old school, but the crucial point is that preference is based on relationship rather than talent.

What about networking? Word of mouth can play a part in finding good people, and your staff will quite likely know some of the best candidates around. ‘There’s no problem with introducing your contacts to an opportunity,’ says Zheltoukhova, ‘so long as the final decision is based on merit.’ Otherwise it’s cronyism.

Why does it matter? ‘Perceived favouritism can erode employee trust and destroy morale,’ says Simon Hayward, CEO of leadership and engagement consultancy Cirrus. ‘It can damage your company’s reputation and hinder results if you don’t choose the best person. It is also unfair on the individual if they are assigned a leadership role but are not ready for it,’ says Hayward.

Put it in a policy. ‘Your recruitment policy should state that all decisions about appointments and promotions follow a fair and objective process,’ says Gloria Moss, professor of management and marketing at Bucks New University. ‘That should include a clear job specification against which every candidate will be measured.’ Anyone with a perceived bias towards a candidate should step aside from the process, adds Zheltoukhova.

Look beyond recruitment. ‘Nepotism could be a question of who gets the best projects or the foreign trips,’ says Moss. ‘One way to prevent favouritism is to build fairness and transparency into all criteria, including those relating to recruitment, promotion and appraisal and day-to-day decisions affecting project work.’

© Management Today 2015

Read this article in full on the Management Today website.

 

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