About two years ago, a midsize U.S. law firm reached out to the Center for WorkLife Law to learn how bias was surfacing in their performance evaluations. The firm’s D&I director had spot-checked a sample of supervisor evaluations for bias and identified several red flags. They decided they wanted to go a step further and take a data-driven approach. (Music to our ears!)
We started by conducting an audit of the firm’s performance evaluations. The vast majority seemed useful and appropriate. But when we looked closer at the data, we found sobering differences by both race and gender. Most dramatic was that only 9.5% of people of color received mentions of leadership in their performance evaluations — more than 70 percentage points lower than white women. Not surprisingly, leadership mentions typically predicted higher competency ratings the next year.
We recommended a number of interventions — what we call bias interrupters — and agreed to test their efficacy by looking at the firm’s performance evaluations the following year.
The good news? The results of the interventions were striking. We saw sharp improvement in a single year. Here’s how. READ MORE
by Joan C. Williams, Denise Lewin Loyd, Mikayla Boginsky, and Frances Armas-Edwards
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