In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 19, 2009 / 30 Tishrei 5770

Is nepotism kosher?

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. I'm a manager in a medium-sized company. I have to hire a new employee and I want to hire my nephew. Is that nepotism?

A. "Nepotism," which is derived from the root for "nephew," is the practice of showing favoritism in hiring to relatives. When we evaluate this phenomenon, we have to examine both the inherent aspects of the practice and also the appearances.

Let us start from the fundamentals. As a manager, your job is to use your talents in the best interest of the company at all times. If your nephew is in fact the best qualified person applying for the job, then there is no question that there is nothing unethical about hiring him. But there are a number of marginal cases which need further study.

Perhaps your nephew's CV doesn't look any better than those of other applicants. But you know your nephew well and know that his CV is accurate, that he is qualified, and that he is not a crook. Your individual knowledge makes him the best looking candidate. I would call this "knowledge nepotism" - his family advantage is one of knowledge, not of per se favoritism.

A variation on this case is where your nephew is not inherently more qualified than anyone else, but he is worth more to the company precisely because he is your nephew. This employee already has a good relationship with at least one manager (you) and so he has a leg up on other candidates that is in fact related to his expected job performance.

Showing favoritism in these cases is not a breach of trust because ultimately you do have the company's best interest in mind. You have a stack of CV's, and one candidate has a better chance of succeeding than the others, either because of what you know about him or because of his relationships.

However, this kind of favoritism is not without problems. You may know in your heart of hearts that you have the best interests of the company in mind, but the company may suspect that when people hire relatives they are showing favoritism. In addition, different companies have different cultures. Some firms thrive on having a homogenous work force and culture, so in-hiring can be an advantage. Others have policies promoting diversity, which is harmed by in-hiring of this nature.

Think twice before hiring a relative.

So in any case, before you show any favoritism to a relative you should disclose this fact to your employer. Even if you are convinced that your relative is the best qualified the safe thing is to make a disclosure. Many firms have policies requiring employees to make disclosures or even recuse themselves in making decisions about relatives. Large firms sometimes have blanket prohibitions on close relatives working together in the firm.

The most problematic case is where your nephew is not the most qualified candidate but you want to favor him because he is your relative. In this case you have in mind not the interest of your employer but rather your own interest. If you were to keep this a secret, it would be called self-dealing. But if you disclose it, it could be called a "perquisite". It is not forbidden for private companies to do favors for employees. Employees obtain recompense partially from salary and partially from work conditions, including perquisites such as espresso machines and nepotism.

This problem is solved by transparency in the case of a family run firm. In that case you could get permission from the owners. But in the case of a professionally managed firm, such as one with public ownership, this is a big problem. You can get permission from the senior management, but they are not the owners. Perquisites in firms like this can turn into a series of trading favors among managers at the expense of the owners. Perquisites like fancy office buildings have the advantage of transparency, but favoritism is invisible and it is the "gift that keeps on giving": an incompetent employee does ongoing damage to the firm and may in turn show favoritism to others.

In all cases of favoritism where you can't get the approval of the actual owners of the firm, I would recommend recusing yourself from the decision. Detail all of your considerations to colleagues so that they can benefit from your judgment without being subject to any prejudgments you may have.

Last, but far from least, I want to give readers the benefit of my own experience. I have found that hiring relatives and friends is usually not doing them a favor. If they are truly qualified and capable, then often they are limiting themselves by working for the family. The result is harm and frustration for the hire which may translate into harm to the employer to. Some studies confirm that people actually do better if they avoid the family business. And if they are not qualified and capable, they generally end up being an expensive and aggravating burden. So ethics aside, think twice before hiring a relative.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology.


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© 2009, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics