Favoritism, Nepotism, Bribery and the PMI Code of Ethics

Posted on March 18, 2010 by

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Business Ethics (The Office)

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Why is it a problem to hire or award someone based on the fact that they are your friend, relative, or have offered you a little “gift” in return? The problem is what you are not doing—making decisions based on people’s merits to the best interest of your organization. The third mandatory Fairness standard in the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (http://www.pmi.org/About-Us/Ethics/~/media/PDF/Ethics/ap_pmicodeofethics.ashx) is “4.3.3 We do not hire or fire, reward or punish, or award or deny contracts based on personal considerations, including but not limited to, favoritism, nepotism, or bribery.” This does not mean that you cannot hire your friend—it means that you should not hire them based solely on the fact that they are your friend. It is possible that your friend is the best person for the job and should be offered a position.

From the Italian word for “nephew,” nepotism means showing favoritism to one’s relatives. Although the Code of Ethics flatly condemns nepotism, the Business Dictionary has an interesting point, stating that “Despite its negative connotations, nepotism (if applied sensibly) is an important and positive practice in the start-up and formative years of a firm where complete trust and willingness to work  (for little or no immediate reward) are critical for its survival” (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/nepotism.html). So is nepotism always bad? Please share your thoughts with us here at TAPUniversity.

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