Here’s how much nepotism really happens in Canadian workplaces

New data shows that nepotism is not only alive and well in Canadian workplaces but is becoming a standard part of hiring in the country.

A report from global recruitment group Robert Walters revealed that 77% of companies place a higher value on a candidate’s personal connections over their skills while hiring. That translates to nearly four in five employers.

This data resulted from a recent Robert Walters survey into diversity, equity, and inclusion in Canadian workplaces.

“Stop using nepotism and hiring best friends. Hire people that can do the job,” one respondent said.

“Make more of an effort to make opportunities available to professionals who didn’t necessarily have the privilege of learning certain skills in their youth,” another added.

Analysts noted that 68% of highly qualified candidates in Canada are being “overlooked for a job in favour of someone with a better network.”

Per the study, only 11% of Canadian organizations have measures in place to avoid workplace nepotism, and only 29% of employers said they “value a candidate’s qualifications and skills in equal measure to the people they know.”

How your class factors into promotions

Robert Walters noted that people have a 71% higher chance of being promoted in an organization if they’re “upper class” rather than working class.

“They also have a clearer vision of how to climb the career ladder, while 70% more working-class professionals are unsure of what they need to do to progress,” experts stated.



“This type of judgment impacts employees significantly — 62% feel as though their progression opportunities are hindered, even though their skills or output qualify them for a promotion,” they added.

In an email to Daily Hive, Martin Fox, managing director of Robert Walters Canada, shared that working-class professionals often feel neglected by managers. Data shows that one in five such workers feel their manager “does not take the time to understand their personal circumstances.”

One person responding to the recruitment firm’s survey urged employers to bridge this class-based divide. “A person who grew up in poverty [and who] now holds a college degree is still at a disadvantage in a material-driven environment,” they said.

Workforce development organization Cara Collective shared insights with Robert Walters on how employers can be more inclusive and equitable when hiring and promoting workers.

The collective advises that organizations focus on managerial training, pay attention to employee feedback, invest in skill-building, make their onboarding process more structured with regular check-ins, recognize motivated workers, and communicate career pathways to employees.

“As leaders, we have a responsibility to develop workplaces that thrive on merit and equal opportunities. These findings serve as a wake-up call for organizations to reevaluate hiring and promotion practices,” Fox shared.

“Every employee, regardless of background, personal connections, or class, should be provided with the equitable resources and support that allow them to thrive in their career. It is crucial for employers to proactively ensure that all members of their workforce feel supported, valued, and respected.”

Have you ever felt that your class or lack of personal connections has affected your chances of being hired or promoted in Canada? Please send us an email with your story or comments at [email protected].