The authors looked at performance review for 3 high-tech companies and a professional services firm, finding that women consistently received less feedback tied to business outcomes, which correlated with lower performance review ratings. Their deeper analysis of more than 200 performance reviews showed that women receive vague praise 57% of the time compared to 43% of the time of the men. Examining communication skills, vital for leaders, 76% of references to being “too aggressive” happened in women’s reviews, versus 24% in men’s. Furthermore, their research indicated that “protective hesitation” — the failure to give feedback due to worry that the recipient might be upset — is a critical barrier in having conversations necessary to advance women’s careers.
Simard and Correll also offer 5 “micro-sponsorship” actions that disuprt these unconscious feedback biases and provide pathways for women to advance.
Before you begin evaluations, either written or verbal, outline and prioritize the specific criteria you are employing to evaluate individuals.
Set a goal to discuss three specific business outcomes with all employees.
Systematically tie feedback — either positive or developmental — to business and goals outcomes.
When evaluating people in similar roles, equalize references to technical accomplishments and capability.
Strive to write reviews of similar lengths for all employees.