In today’s world, eliminating bias in the workplace is a top priority for business leaders. When it comes to performance reviews and delivering feedback, it’s even more important to ensure bias doesn’t take hold of the conversation. However, data shows that leaders and managers are still delivering feedback unfairly.
Gender Bias and Feedback: A Real Problem
Gender equality in the workplace is a major point of discussion in our society today. While some cite the wage gap as a key issue, others want to eliminate unfair maternity leave policies and increase upward mobility for women.
Another issue, though, surrounds performance reviews and constructive feedback. In fact, The Huffington Post cited data from Dr. Karen Snyder of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, which revealed major discrepancies between what is said in a man’s performance review versus what is said in a woman’s. Female workers were more likely to receive praise for team accomplishments rather than individual results. Additionally, men were three times more likely to hear feedback related to business outcomes or company goals.
Furthermore, Silicon Valley influencer Kieran Snyder shared data from her research study in Fortune that found 58.9 percent of reviews men received contained critical feedback, while 87.9 percent of the reviews received by women did.
Bias in the workplace goes far beyond gender, though. In fact, Diversity Digest shared data from a survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, which revealed minority groups were evaluated more negatively than white people. Specifically, more than half of the survey respondents rated African Americans as less intelligent than white people. Race, gender, ethnicity and orientation all present major vulnerabilities for bias in the workplace, especially during performance reviews or anytime feedback is shared with employees.
“Performance reviews and feedback should be improved to create a fair working environment.”
The Solution: Informed Conversations
At BetterWorks, we understand that these are very real problems and think performance reviews and feedback should be improved to create a fair working environment for all employees. As the Society for Human Resources Management pointed out, many companies still use qualitative ranking systems for performance reviews that ultimately pit employees against each other and feed the workplace bias monster. Adobe was one of those companies until 2012, when Senior Vice President Donna Morris abolished the system altogether and replaced it with more frequent, informal conversation.
This was a strong move on Morris’ part, and we think these casual conversations can go even further toward eliminating bias when your leaders throw data into the mix. That’s where interactive goal setting software comes in. When companies rely on performance management and goal setting programs that create a constantly-updated visual of each employee’s achievements and contributions to their teams, managers are better-equipped to give honest, fair appraisals to all workers. Additionally, these tools empower employees to advocate for themselves and remain active participants in conversations surrounding their performance.
Another important quality of interactive software is its inherent transparency. While some of the most biased evaluations happen behind closed doors through anonymous rankings and feedback, interactive platforms are visible to everyone and updated on a regular basis. This means performance conversations™ will be accountable, honest, informed and data-driven.
Companies have a long way to go eliminating bias in the workplace. However, at BetterWorks, we think enterprises have all the tools they need to prevent this occurrence during performance reviews.