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Nepotism is a problem at my company.

Almost everyone from the owner, to the president, to managers, have members of their families or friends hired at my current company. Usually they ensure their relatives/friends are on different teams - but it still happens.

Personally, I this had bad appearances for a few reasons:

  1. The jobs are rarely formally posted online - so no formal interview process is done. They bring in their guy, do an interview and hire them.
  2. Some of these hires underperform. And it feels like they face a different set of standards. I don't know how comfortable a manager can be disciplining the daughter of the owner of the company when they are constantly late.
  3. I feel like I am in the position to be deserving of being a department head if I stick with the company. However, I fear that I could spend years here working toward that position and then, at the last moment, the President will bring in their buddy to lead the department.

I don't know how I can bring my concerns to management without a manager getting defensive.

The short of the question is this: How do I approach anyone in management with my concerns of nepotism when everyone above me is actively participating in it?

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    From what you've said, you want to complain about nepotism, to the people who are actually involved in the nepotism? Is there no one else in a position you can raise it with? Apr 19, 2022 at 16:29
  • There literally isn't. The owner. the president, the VP, my department head, my immediate manager, Head of HR have all had family/friends hired at the company. I don't know if anyone of them will recently well to a complaint about it.
    – Ronnie W
    Apr 19, 2022 at 16:43
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    Unfortunately, I am afraid there is not much you could do. But, if the performance of any team is drastically decreased because of the nepotism, then managers may ask for your input, and then you can ask them to let you hire some real talents to improve the performance. Apr 19, 2022 at 18:23
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    To my knowledge, nepotism isn't illegal in the United States except where it relates to public officials. If everyone in management is in on it then I don't see that there's anything you can do about. Your concerns will surely fall on deaf ears.
    – joeqwerty
    Apr 19, 2022 at 18:52

3 Answers 3

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How do I approach anyone in management with my concerns of nepotism when everyone above me is actively participating in it?

You don't.

If the owner, president, the VP, your department head, your immediate manager, and the head of HR all have relatives working there, then clearly they have no problem with nepotism. Your concerns aren't going to change that.

I fear that I could spend years here working toward that position and then at the last moment - the President will bring in their buddy to lead the department.

That might happen, and it might not.

You can either wait to see if that problem actually occurs, or you can start looking for a new job now.

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The simply question is, what are you hoping to accomplish here?

Let's say it all goes well, is the CEO going to fire all their family members?

Maybe the most realistic response is you'll get assurances that you will be made department head in the correct time-frame. Are those assurances going to be meaningful for you?

At the end of the day, nobody is going to throw their family under the bus for an employee.

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  • I appreciate this answer. While I think think there are several things wrong with nepotism - the main concern selfishly is how it will affect me personally. I don't want anyone fired - no one is under performing that much. But I don't want to get gipped out of job (if I deserve it).
    – Ronnie W
    Apr 19, 2022 at 17:59
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    I suppose what I'm hinting at is there anything they can say that you can trust? 5 years from now, when the CEO's niece wants the same promotion you do, do you trust them if they say they will do the right thing? Apr 19, 2022 at 18:24
  • There isn't any manager I could speak freely about it with right now. As for doing the right thing - it's hard to know. That would be my cue to move on if someone got it because of their relationships rather than their skillsets.
    – Ronnie W
    Apr 19, 2022 at 19:23
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If the owner of a company is willing to give his nephew a job where he underperforms and gets paid, instead of the nephew sitting all day on his playstation, and the money for this comes out of the owner's pocket, and you have no disadvantage from this (say your team consists of 4 people + nephew, and you are expected to do 4 1/2 people's work, and not 5 people's work, and the nephew doesn't grab tips he doesn't deserve etc. ) then this is in my view alright. You just need to talk to the owner and enquire how you should handle this.

Many other situations, someone is effectively stealing from the company. You can check carefully with the person responsible for hiring. Like you could say "manager, your nephew is having three hour lunch breaks, and he is rude to customers". Either your manager is fine with this behaviour, then that's it, or the manager didn't know this and tells you to fix this - very similar to any other employee, except it would be harder to fire him.

In worse situation, you may go very carefully to the person above the one hiring. But only if you are confident in finding a job elsewhere. Depending on how much money the company loses, that may be needed anyway.

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