These are the words women hear most often in their performance reviews. While those words may sound complimentary, they convey the gender bias women experience during their annual reviews which lead to less women in leadership and lower pay.
Researchers at Stanford analyzed hundreds of performance reviews. Their research suggests a gender gap in how men and women are assessed at work. Women are often criticized for coming on too strong and their accomplishments get credited to teamwork.
Researchers say we, as humans, have an inherent bias. Women are expected to be team players and men more independent. These negatives during reviews mean women are moved to support roles instead of executive positions and contributes to the salary gap between genders.
Changing how female employees are reviewed can help eliminate gender bias. Real time feedback, 360 reviews, and peer to peer reviews provide additional perspectives into employees and how they work with others.
Real Time Feedback
Implement regular feedback mechanisms throughout the year. Try a real-time journal where employees and supervisors post accomplishments, questions, and issues. Add regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings to review recent work. This timely feedback provides opportunity for corrections and develops relationships.
A 360 review provides a more well-rounded view of an employee. Supervisors, direct reports, peers, and vendors provide insight. This helps eliminate bias by providing information from more than one experience of working with an employee. If a formal questionnaire is used, an average score can be taken to rate an employee.
Peer to Peer Review
For peer to peer reviews to work effectively, managers should assign anonymous peer reviewers. Peers need specific guidelines or questionnaires for their review with clear explanations of terms. Provide peer reviewers suggestions for open-ended questions and have them include specific examples to support their conclusions.
Closing the Gap
Closing the pay and leadership gap is important not only from a societal perspective but companies with female leaders have improved profitability, higher return on equity, and generally higher retention (BusinessWeek, 2016). If you are making conscious efforts to increase diversity in your hiring and inclusion efforts, that's great - but it could all be for naught if you are still using traditional performance reviews as the vehicle for promotion and compensation equality.