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News - 09.09.2021

Posted by Aisling Teillard

News - 09.09.2021

Performance Management’s Role in Fostering Diversity

Employees in office

There has been a striking evolution of diversity in the workplace – as it now takes center stage. As we see, D&I now permeates our strategies, policies, thoughts, and actions throughout almost every organisation. The D&I approach now informs our recruitment practices, succession planning, training, leadership effectiveness development, and much more.

How can Performance Management encourage diversity?

As HR professionals, the question remains whether we have considered how our performance management processes can influence the D&I agenda.

We often focus on the gender pay gap, but there are many other moments that matter which influence the D&I of an organisation. Especially as the compensation and reward are often directly linked to the performance management process.

When you consider one of the first steps in a performance management process, employees must take a self-assessment survey. Most would think this is good practice, and of course, managers must understand their people’s perspectives. Tracking this is paramount, as it often highlights gaps in self-promotion and how individuals communicate their performance and ability to others. Our Tandem’s rich data tells us that, on average, women are more likely to self-assess themselves harshly compared to their male counterparts.

The gender gap in self-promotion

A recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper examines another issue that possibly contributes to these gender imbalances at work. They tested the hypothesis of whether women undersell themselves when it comes to their self-assessments. As many workforces rely on their employees’ subjective assessments of their skills and abilities, a gender gap in self-promotion can seriously jeopardize a women’s career trajectories. They put both women and men through a test that required an analytical task that answered 20 questions. To assess their confidence levels, the participants then indicated how many they thought they had answered correctly. Lastly, the subjects answered ‘subjective, quantitative self-assessment about their performance.’ Even though women performed better than men on average, they rated themselves lower on the self-assessment questions.

Alarmingly, the differences were rather striking. For example, when asked to agree with subjective statements such as “I did well on the test” on a scale of 0 to 100, men averaged a rating of 61 while women scored a mere 45. Intriguingly, the authors assert that the gender gap was not a function of confidence. Even when participants were told how many questions they got right and how they fared relative to others, the gap in self-promotion persisted. Thus, despite being provided with “perfect information about their absolute and relative past performance,” women were more likely to belittle their achievement when asked to evaluate their performance on the very same test. (Gender Equality at the workplace: Promoting Self- Promotion in Women, Financial Express).

Don’t wait for the annual review.

In reality, the problem persists long before you get to the annual review. We must consider the moments that form part of our performance conversations throughout the year. The real questions to think through our continuous performance management:

  • Our female counterparts receive feedback as often as their male counterparts, and is it likely to be growth-oriented or constructive?
  • Do the employees who have worked at our company longer have less frequent check-in conversations than those who have recently joined?
  • Are men more likely to give constructive feedback to their male counterparts based on a ‘man to man talk’ which doesn’t necessarily translate so easily to their female counterparts?

I know many women, including myself, who assume that you are reluctant to travel due to family commitments. The unconscious is often lurking beneath your performance processes without being easily spotted. So, the next time you are discussing your diversity strategy, consider your performance management practices. The source of your challenge may have started well before the gender pay gap took hold.

On the upside, there are answers. We can now measure these things in infinite detail, spotting where the discrepancies may lie.

How Our Tandem can help

Our Tandem’s rich data insights enable us to provide actionable insights that allow HR to tell the narrative that matters. Understanding diversity gaps throughout the year will allow you to deliver a performance management process more than accelerating performance. It helps create an inspiring employee experience that enables your people to unlock growth and accelerate their potential. For more information, book a chat with a member of our team today.

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