New Report: Pinning Down the Jellyfish: The Workplace Experiences of Women of Color in Tech
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Performance Evaluations

Incremental steps that improve diversity in your organization can yield large gains. Diverse work groups perform better and are more committed, innovative, and loyal.

It’s time to go beyond just talking about the problem of workplace bias. Bias Interrupters is an evidence-based model that provides solutions. By taking small steps, Bias Interrupters can yield big changes.

We’ve distilled the huge literature on bias into simple steps that help you and your company perform better.


A study of performance evaluations in tech found that 66% of women’s performance reviews contained at least one negative personality criticism (“You come off as abrasive”) whereas only 1% of men’s reviews did.1 In our performance evaluation audit at a law firm, we found that people of color and white women were far more likely to have their personality mentioned in their evaluations (including negative personality traits). What’s optional for white men (getting along with others), appears to be necessary for white women and people of color. Case in point: 83% of Black men were praised for having a “good attitude” vs. 46% of white men, and 27% of white women were praised for being “friendly and warm” vs. 10% of white men.2

Research also shows that white men tend to be judged on their potential while “prove-it-again groups” (women, people of color, individuals with disabilities,3 members of the LGBTQIA+ community,4 older employees,5 and first-generation professionals) are judged (or scrutinized) on their performance. Small biases can have large effects: According to one study, women received significantly lower “potential” ratings despite higher job performance ratings and this accounted for 30-50% of the gender promotion gap.6


1. Use Metrics
Data and metrics help you spot problems—and assess the effectiveness of the measures you’ve taken. Businesses use metrics to help them achieve any strategic goal.

Key metrics:
Do your performance evaluations show consistently higher ratings for majority men than for women, people of color, or other relevant groups?
Do your performance evaluations show consistently higher ratings for in-person workers than remote and hybrid workers?
Do women’s ratings fall after they have children? Do employees’ ratings fall after they take parental leave or adopt flexible work arrangements?
Do the same performance ratings result in different promotion or compensation rates for different groups?

Keep metrics by: 1) individual supervisor; 2) department; and 3) the organization as a whole.

2. Implement Bias Interrupters detailed in the drop-down menu below.

Equality Action Center. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


  1. Snyder, K. (2014, August 26). The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews. Fortune. Retrieved from
  2. Williams, J.C., Lewin Loyd, D., Boginsky, M., & Armas-Edwards, F. (2021). How One Company Worked to Root Out Bias from Performance Reviews. Harvard Business Review.
  3. Ameri, M., Schur, L., Adya, M., Bentley, F. S., McKay, P., & Kruse, D. (2018). The disability employment puzzle: A field experiment on employer hiring behavior. ILR Review71(2), 329-364. doi: 10.1177/0019793917717474
  4. Pride and prejudice: Employment discrimination against openly gay men in the United States. American Journal of Sociology, 117(2), 586-626. doi: 10.1086/661653
  5. Cuddy, A. J. C., Norton, M. I., Fiske, S. T. (2005). This old stereotype: The pervasiveness and persistence of the elderly stereotype. Journal of Social Issues, 61(2), 265-283. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2005.00405.x
  6. Benson, A., Li, D., Shue, K. (2021). “Potential and the Gender Promotion Gap.” Working Paper.
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