pavestep logo white

Inclusive Performance Management: How Performance Management Processes Can Support DEI


Unfair performance reviews can lead to a dwindling of trust and satisfaction in performance evaluations. This can lead to an increase in employee disengagement and increase in turnover. One survey found that 85% of employees would consider quitting their jobs if they felt their performance review was unfair!

In this article, we outline some ways that performance management can be more equitable.

1) Adjust the frequency of reviews and implement continuous feedback

If your organization is still doing once-a-year performance reviews without multiple check-ins throughout the year, your employee performance reviews are most likely plagued with unconscious biases. In fact, 45% of HR leaders do not think that annual reviews give an accurate picture of an employee’s performance.

To help combat the most common workplace biases, managers should be frequently giving feedback to employees. The frequency of feedback will depend on the culture of your organization.

If you are thinking that creating a culture of feedback is too difficult to implement or that your employees are not ready for it, remember that employees actually want more feedback! One survey found that 92% of 1,000 U.S. workers polled want feedback about their job performance more frequently than once a year. This is particularly true with the younger generations in your workforce, where 60% of employees want multiple check-ins with their manager a week! Having a feedback solution can help streamline this process as well as store all this data.

2) Implement 360-degree feedback

360-degree feedback is a method that provides each employee the opportunity to receive performance feedback from peers, their direct reports, and their manager(s). There are many benefits of 360 feedback including (i) it provides feedback to employees from a variety of sources, (ii) it reduces blind spots and rater bias, and (iii) it develops and strengthens teamwork.

Overall, involving multiple perspectives is a better way to understand an employee’s performance. If a manager is providing feedback that is contradictory to multiple raters, talent leaders should consider talking to the employee and manager to better understand if there is mistrust or misalignment between these two individuals. Remember that misalignment and/or mistrust can lead to biases in performance reviews and affect your organization’s overall talent and training decisions. Multiple perspectives are also important in matrix organizations where people work with multiple different teams throughout the year, particularly when the direct manager may not even be one the same project as their direct report!

For more information, feel free to download our guidebook on implementing 360 degree feedback.

3) Set clear objectives and expectations

Objectives and expectations have to be clear – if these are not clear, employees will have a difficult time understanding how they are being evaluated. Having clear objectives also helps maximize employee engagement and productivity. Having a tool that helps document and track progress can be helpful to both parties.

4) Incorporate inclusive behaviours into your performance management process

Reinforcing inclusive behaviors is key. Every employee, particularly senior management, should be role modelling these behaviors. Consider creating competencies/skills that promote inclusive behavior. Moreover, consider training and coaching around the language that employees use during feedback and reviews (consider the example, “for your age, you did that faster than I expected!”). Educate employees on words, phrases, and tones that may offend or stereotype the person based on attributes like ethnicity, gender, age, etc.

5) Include bias prompts

Employers can include written prompts designed to disrupt bias and improve objectivity. Some prompts can include:

  • Did you consider performance throughout the entire period of the check-in/review?
  • Can you give 3 examples of how the employee demonstrated a particular capability?
  • Would you use the same language with the opposite gender/race?
  • Is your feedback constructive and clear? Is your feedback forward looking?
  • Do you offer the same amount of feedback/development/areas of improvement to this employee as with the rest of your team?

6) Become more data-driven

Who is getting promoted? Who should be getting promoted? Who is getting bonuses? Who are your A players? Who are your B players? Who should be getting more training? How much feedback is each employee receiving and requesting?

Having a performance management tool allows HR professionals to have all this data at their fingertips. It’s time to use that data! You may find interesting trends in demographics, training, feedback frequency, etc. For instance, separate the data by gender to see if one gender is getting more feedback than the other. It can also be helpful to see the type of feedback – is more praise or developmental-oriented feedback being given to a specific gender? Correlating these data with bonus, promotion, and/or career development trends can be a powerful way to identify biases and help direct organizational DEI initiatives.


There are many consequences of unfair appraisals including ineffective personal development, unfair compensation and rewards, favouring advancement unfair dismissal, and employee disengagement. It is important that performance management is as objective as possible.

Hopefully these tips help you create a more unbiased process. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. If you are looking for a performance management solution, check out Pavestep!

More to explore

Other Categories