Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has found itself in the spotlight as the latest industry member to be criticized for alleged favorable treatment of relatives, with employees at the global firm having reportedly raised complaints against a London-based work experience program that flew in children of high-ranking executives from around the world.
The news comes shortly after Big Four consultancy KPMG found itself under attack for alleged nepotism in its Middle East practice, with partners at KPMG Lower Gulf protesting after Talal Cheikh Elard, brother-in-law of Chief Executive Officer and Chair Nader Haffar, was promoted to a senior position. According to internal sources, two senior partners who raised concerns about the promotion were forced out of the firm, and both Haffar and Elard were accused by employees of toxic work practices including shouting at staff, slamming fists on tables, and storming out of meetings.
According to internal sources, a group of some 30 children and relations of managers and the firm’s “high companions” were flown in for a week-long experience of training and treatment that some employees claimed new hires would never receive. The youths were participating in BCG’s “Bruce Henderson Summer Programme,” named after the agency’s founder, which supposedly took two months for staff to organize.
One BCG worker present at the time informed the Financial Times, “They received office tours, dinners, and stuff that wouldn’t normally be given to [job] candidates. They basically made it a bit of a holiday for the partners’ kids who came over.”
BCG disputed the claims, saying that organizers had volunteered their time and that the program had been in place for many years, with the focus strictly on education.
Nepotism is an ongoing problem in businesses in the U.K., with a pre-pandemic study by Debrett’s Foundation revealing that seven in every 10 young people aged 16 to 25 had used family connections to get their first job—with certain lines of work becoming unobtainable depending on the status of one’s family. The pandemic exacerbated the situation, with 57% of recruiters relying on personal networks and word-of-mouth references, and 28% reporting they were more likely to hire somebody they already knew because they were viewed as a safer bet during uncertain times. With the potential of a recession looming, the situation is likely to continue widening the class divide in the U.K.