Only 11 per cent of organizations have measures in place to prevent nepotism: Survey

A survey from Robert Walters revealed that only a small percentage of organizations prioritize the prevention of nepotism in the workplace.

A recent survey into diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace from global recruiter Robert Walters, revealed that almost four in five employers (77 per cent) prioritize personal connections over skillsets when making hiring decisions.

The survey revealed that 68 per cent of highly qualified candidates are being overlooked in favour of those with better personal connections or networks. Additionally, 29 per cent of employers said they value a candidate’s qualifications and skills in equal measure to the people they know, according to the survey.

Findings revealed that this has an effect on employees and their workplace experiences. The survey noted that this type of judgment impacts employees significantly with 62 per cent feeling as though their progression opportunities are hindered, regardless of whether their skills or quality of work qualify them for a promotion.

A total of 70 per cent of employers admitted that personal relationships also influence promotion decisions, with only 11 per cent stating they have measures in place to prevent workplace nepotism, according to the survey.

Voices from the DEI survey respondents further illuminate concerns of nepotism.

“Bridge the divide between the working, middle and upper-class. A person who grew up in poverty that now holds a college degree is still at a disadvantage in a material-driven environment,” said one voice.

“Make more of an effort to make opportunities available to professionals who didn’t necessarily have the privilege of learning certain skills in their youth,” said another voice.

The study revealed a gap in career advancement between the classes; with upper-class professionals having a 71 per cent higher chance of getting a promotion versus working-class counterparts.

“As leaders, we have a responsibility to develop workplaces that thrive on merit and equal opportunities. These findings serve as a wake-up call for organizations to reevaluate hiring and promotion practices,” said Martin Fox, managing director of Robert Walters Canada. “Every employee, regardless of background, personal connections or class should be provided with the equitable resources and support that allow them to thrive in their career.”

Fox noted that their research shows that working-class professionals often feel neglected by managers. “In the current hiring landscape – one of the most challenging in recent years – organizations are struggling to retain top talent. Our work into DEI underscores the pivotal role that inclusive workplaces play in achieving overall business success and retention. It is crucial for employers to proactively ensure that all members of their workforce feel supported, valued, and respected,” said Fox.

As a result of these findings, Cara Collective, a workforce development organization, has offered insights on how organizations can create more inclusive hiring practices while promoting a more positive workplace culture.

They include creating structured onboarding processes, developing team cultures, communicating career pathways, investing in career-advancing skill building, proving managers with resources and training, collecting employee feedback and recognizing and investing in motivated workers.