FAVOURITISM AT WORK
- Posted by: ainurfarish7
- Category: MBA@KPJ
“Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly” (Holy Quran 49:9). This verse serves as a reminder to us of the importance of justice. Being just, is not only taught in Islam but also notably in other religions. Injustice denies fairness and equality and consequently violates the fundamental of human rights. In the Qur’an, equality, justice, fairness, brotherhood, mercy, compassion, solidarity and freedom of choice are expressed as collective morality. As a leader, we are responsible to apply these principles and we are accountable to God and people that we lead.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines favouritism as “unfair support shown to one person or group, especially by someone in authority.” Meanwhile, favouritism according to Arasli and Tumer (2008) is the provision of special privilege to friends, colleagues and acquaintances, in areas of employment, career and personnel decisions. It is basically the tendency to offer unearned affection, benefits, gifts or opportunities to a person or group based on personal feelings. Many people tend to show favouritism to people whom they believe are like them. An employer might offer special benefits to an employee he/she wishes to mentor or given preferential treatment.
As someone in a leadership position or an employee in general, it is vital to understand the concept of favouritism in the workplace. When a leader or manager demonstrates favours toward one employee over another, due to a personal bond or friendship shared between the two instead of their job performance, it will create a hostile or toxic workplace environment to those unfavoured. People with closer ties to the leaders or managers are offered better positions without having to go through the normal procedures at the expense of the most deserving employees due to favouritism. They received all sorts of perks and plum opportunities. A survey conducted by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business found that 92% of senior business executives have seen favoritism at play in employee promotions, including at their own companies (84%). About a quarter of the polled execs admitted to practicing favoritism themselves. Hence, the principle of justice and equality is undermined because others’ rights are usurped. This unethical behaviour will definitely cause the employee loss of respect for the company and towards the organization leadership.
Oftentimes, victims of favouritism will be demotivated and frustrated because their ethical work and devotion to the company continually go unnoticed. They feel like their work is not appreciated and they would not be able to advance in the company because their potential opportunities have been taken away by those favoured people. They can suffer chronic frustration and feelings of worthlessness. Once they feel demotivated, a sense of unfairness creeps in, their talents and skills overlooked and when the resentment reaches a certain point they will contemplate leaving the company. The leader or manager who practices favouritism unwittingly hurts employee morale and ultimately drives down engagement and performance. Favouritism potentially leads to higher turnover rates and the company will be at risk of losing employees who may have been of great value.
The practice of favouritism may lead to legal actions if an employee feels that he or she was discriminated against or was forced to work in a hostile environment. However, the current laws in Malaysia (Industrial Relations Act 1967 and Employment Act 1955) may not be adequate to fully address the various issues of discrimination in the workplace, leaving certain individuals vulnerable to unfair treatments and exploitation without any meaningful recourse under the law. As everybody deserves equal opportunity and protection, regardless of their individual characteristics therefore it is hoped that legislative efforts to tackle this issue will continue.
In summary, as humans, we will naturally warm up to some people more than others. Even so, in the workplace, this preferential treatment can create real issues. The effects of favouritism in the workplace can become even worse if it is allowed to grow unchecked. Favouritism is an unethical and unprofessional behaviour. People in the position of authority should shoulder the responsibility to foster and promote professionalism in the organization, among others discouraging any kind of unfair or injustice treatment. If one is put in a position of authority, it is important to be mindful that decisions that we make are fair and justifiable on objective grounds, as managing through gut decisions can create real animosity within the team, and in some circumstances leave the door open for disgruntled employees to take action. The best offense is a good defense. The stability of the team is vital. Leaders should create a comfortable work atmosphere, thrives on honesty, fairness, transparent decision-making, optimism and high moral standards which in turn will make the employee satisfied, more productive and committed to the goal of the organisation.
“Believers if opt to practice favoritism will fail miserably to build a relationship of mutual trust & true respect for themselves.”― Santosh Thankachan
Dr. Aidilnurul Fareena binti Ishak
KPJ Bandar Dato Onn Specialist Hospital
13 November 2020
Arasli, H., & Tumer, M. (2008) Nepotism, favoritism and cronyism: A study of their effects on job stress and job satisfaction in the banking industry of north Cyprus. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal 36(9): 1239