At work and at play | Nepotism, not such a rep …

Female students are predominant on five out of the six Copenhagen University faculties (photo: iStock)
November 5th, 2012 9:14 am| by admin
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In general, nepotism has a bad reputation, and especially in certain countries where it is common practice and where it is often associated with corruption and undeserved favouritism.

However, in Denmark, I have noticed that at many companies, hiring relatives of employees is not uncommon, and it seems to work quite well. I know of a few places where employees’ parents are working in the accounting department for example, or their siblings have been hired. It does not seem to create problems and it certainly does not have the same effect as when a politician hires their son or daughter to be in a position of influence, without any experience or merit.

I believe that this can be explained by the fact that people in Denmark have a high level of trust. They have very large networks and they are happy to share connections with people who would benefit from the introductions. From my own experience, I feel that people in general trust others, until they are proven otherwise.

Being half-French, I know that this is not the case in France, for example, where people will not trust you until you can prove yourself absolutely trustworthy. French people do not open their networks easily, and you would have to be the godfather of the favourite nephew of the CEO of the company in order to have any chance of being referred for any favour or job.

Whereas in Denmark, people will introduce each other to their networks, trusting that everyone will make good use of the new people they meet and that only positive connections will be made. I have certainly had this experience while I was starting my preschool. I got introduced to a lot of people who were either willing to help out or give advice, or who were very happy to refer me to someone else in their network who might be able to help.

For me, this explains why nepotism works here, as people know that if one refers their sister for a job, it’s because they have the proper experience and skills for it. And this trust is extended to friends and spouses as well. And that is why networking is so important, as it is in all countries, but here the advantage is that it works quicker and goes further, even if you are a newcomer.

So work on your networking skills and get to know more Danes: they are actually pretty open people!

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