Leave it to academics to spend time and resources on what most people knew already!
It’s not what you know but who you know that counts in getting ahead in an organization.
According to a study released y by Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, connections and relationships play a significant role in employee promotions despite policies and procedures designed to provide non-objective criteria for advancement.
Most companies say they have policies and procedures designed to lower the impact of non-objective assessment,
In private meetings HR professionals generally acknowledge that such favoritism leads to bad decision-making.
Human resource leaders have pushed decades-long efforts to boost objective performance measures as a major criteria for promotion.
Indeed, large sums have been expended on talent-management technology suites measuring performance, inter-personal skills, and other variables to build a level playing field.
But the just completed study indicates more work needs to be done.
The study was conducted by research firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) and commissioned by Jonathan Gardner, an executive at PSB, as part of his studies in the Executive Master’s in Leadership program at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
According to the Georgetown survey, the vast majority of senior business executives surveyed (92 percent) say they have seen favoritism at play in employee promotions, including at their own companies (84 percent).
The survey also revealed that while nearly all see favoritism as widespread, fewer (23 percent) are willing to admit they have practiced favoritism themselves -- and only 9 percent say they have used favoritism in their last promotion decision.
Among the other points made in the survey are:
- While favoritism has been recognized in the workplace in the past, this research provides documented evidence that the practice exists.
- The research reflects interviews with senior level executives at major corporations. This sample showcases the point that companies need to examine their hiring practices in regard to fairness at the most senior levels of management (the authors argue that fairness comes into play more at lower positions in companies).
- While fairness and objectivity often are talked about in terms of under-represented groups, this research shows that it's a problem across the board.
- Favoritism in the workplace erodes organizational performance by promoting people who make less-than-optimal decisions. It also has an impact on the productivity and workplace satisfaction of other employees.
A summary of the findings of this research are available here