Bias Interrupters Small Steps, Big Change Fri, 07 Apr 2017 19:21:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Improving Performance Evaluation Forms & Processes Fri, 09 Sep 2016 20:03:13 +0000 0 Interrupting Bias in Performance Evaluations Fri, 09 Sep 2016 20:02:24 +0000

A best practice is for someone at HR to be trained to review performance evaluations to check for possible bias. This worksheet is a good start.

Controlling Prove-It-Again Bias (“PIA bias”)

Groups stereotyped as less competent often have to provide more evidence in order to be judged equally competent. Groups that have to “prove it again” (“PIA groups”) commonly include women, AfricanAmericans, Latino/as, individuals with disabilities, and Asian-Americans (particularly in leadership roles). Here are the technical names for PIA bias.1

Bias Interrupters – What to look for in reviewing performance evaluations:

1. “She’s not ready.” A persistent pattern of PIA groups being seen as “not ready” for promotion may signal that they’re being required to provide more evidence of competence than others, or aren’t given the same access to career-enhancing assignments.

2. Glamour work versus behind-the-scenes work. Asian-Americans are stereotyped as being good at technical work but low on leadership skills. Analyze performance evaluations to assess whether AsianAmericans are doing more behind-the-scenes work and/or have trouble being seen as having leadership or promotion potential.

Controlling Tightrope Bias (gender)

High-status jobs are seen as requiring masculine qualities—but women are expected to be feminine. So women often find themselves walking a tightrope between being seen as too masculine (and so respected but not liked) or too feminine (and so liked but not respected).

Women are expected to be self-effacing and nice—good team players. Men are expected to be ambitious, direct, assertive, and competitive. Women often find themselves walking a tightrope as they try to strike a balance that allows them to be seen both as competent and as likable. 2

Tightrope bias includes pressures to behave in feminine ways, penalties for women who do so, and backlash against women who behave in masculine ways.

Bias Interrupters – What to look for in reviewing performance evaluations:

Backlash for masculine behavior:

1. Separate style from skills. Analyze your evaluations for Tightrope Trigger Words such as “aggressive,” “abrasive,” “sharp elbows,” “outspoken,” “prima donna,” “not a team player,” “a real self-promoter,” “mean,” or “bitch.” One study of performance evaluations found, of those who received negative comments, 75% of women but only 2% of men received comments about negative personality traits;
negative comments about men focused almost exclusively on skill sets they needed to develop further.
(Snyder, 2014). Of course, some women have relevant personality issues; the question is whether a
broader range of behavior is accepted in men than women.

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How to Spot and Avoid Bias When Evaluating Others Fri, 09 Sep 2016 20:01:20 +0000 0 Tips for Re-Distributing Office Housework Fri, 09 Sep 2016 19:57:26 +0000 0 Tips for Ensuring Equal Access to Glamour Work Fri, 09 Sep 2016 19:56:34 +0000 0 Performance Evaluations Fri, 09 Sep 2016 19:55:27 +0000


The usual tools for increasing diversity, such as one-time trainings and women’s initiatives, typically don’t work. CITE. Implicit bias often creeps into your performance evaluations and negatively affects your company’s ability to retain and develop talent. CITES The 2016 Workplace Experiences Survey found that 82% of white male lawyers, but only 68% of lawyers of color and 71% of women lawyers, felt their performance evaluations have been fair.

  • Law firm partners found 41% more errors in the same legal brief they thought was written by an African-American, as compared with a white associate.  CITE

A 2014 study of performance evaluations in tech found that 66% of the women were criticized for “personality problems,” such as being “judgmental” or “abrasive,” only 1% of men were. CITE

  1. “Priming” works:  Read our Identifying and Interrupting Bias Worksheet LINK to identify the common forms of bias and then quickly review it right before you do a performance evaluation. This simple step can help avoid the common pitfalls of bias. CITE. Suggest to other managers to do the same.
  2. Don’t rely exclusively on self-promotion to share successes within your department. LINK Set up more formal systems for sharing successes, such as a weekly or monthly email that lists employees’ accomplishments that gets factored into evaluations, and be proactive about levelling the playing field.
  3. If you use self-evaluations, hand out the How To Write An Effective Self-Evaluation Worksheet to your reports, and suggest (or require that) they use it. LINK Suggest to other managers they do the same.
  1. Suggest that your department implement Bias Interrupters in your performance review process to interrupt bias. Give your CEO or Managing Partner the Bias Interrupters Memo LINK.
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Ten Steps Towards Fair and Effective Performance Evaluations Fri, 09 Sep 2016 19:53:36 +0000 0