The blight that harms our society more than it helps. The unfair practice that sometimes shuts qualified people out of positions in favour of the less qualified.
It’s a term that many around the world know personally and have probably been affected by at some point.
I know you see that word and it probably turns your stomach. You may even want to throw this article away and go read something else.
But give me a moment to state my case.
My own experience with favouritism
I’ve been tripped up by favouritism (a very close relative of nepotism). Fortunately for me, I was vindicated, as eventually, the person who had received the benefit of the favouritism was unable to rise further. They lacked the very skills that made them unsuitable in the first place.
But that is a story for another time.
How can nepotism be a good thing?
I’ve encountered an example of nepotism that has caused me to reconsider its place in our culture.
Someone I know well worked for many years for a prominent Jamaican-owned company. He was relentless in his pursuit to make the company efficient, profitable and an equitable place to work, and eventually earned a vice presidency.
The president, founder and sole-owner, was on his way to retirement. The man I know was the most suitable choice to become the president of the company. He had the right attitude, work ethic and credentials (in both experience and degrees) to take care of the entire operation.
But the president also had a son who worked in the business. His son, at this point, wasn’t as qualified as the man in question, but he was chosen to take over following his retirement.
Furthermore, the man I know was asked to leave the company because of the threat he posed to the son as the next president.
Now, you may read that and say, “See, that’s not fair! Nepotism at work again! The right man being shut out over a less competent relative!”
But what would you do if it was your startup taking off?
You build a company from scratch and see it grow and become profitable. You’re proud of it and what you’ve been able to achieve with it. You have a child, whom you love and whom you plan to take over to continue your legacy.
You’ve done your best to groom your child to take over your business and you “see” (whether real or imagined) their potential for growth.
Would you, so easily, be able to pass your company over to the more qualified man who is not your relative? And even if your child is less qualified at that time, would you pass up the chance for them to rise to the occasion?
So, what do you think?
Fortunately for that company, the son was indeed able to step up to the plate. He succeeded in raising the company to even greater heights than his father.
We will never know if the company would have fared even better under the hands of the more qualified man. But the point is, was it so wrong to pass over a non-relative for a beloved son?