Jun 17, 2022 - Economy

Asian and white men more likely to be described as "genius" in performance reviews

Frequency of “brilliant” and “genius” in performance feedback, by gender
Data: Textio; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

The tenor of your performance review might depend on your race and gender.

Driving the news: Men tend to get reviews that focus on the substance of their work; while women are 22% more likely to get feedback on their personality, according to a new analysis of performance reviews from 253 companies.

  • White and Asian men are far more likely to be described as "brilliant" or "genius" than any other group.

Why it matters: On an individual level, quality feedback about someone's actual work helps them advance in their careers. Bigger picture: the differences in the way people are reviewed reveal biases about gender and race.

  • "Individual bias runs deep," says Kieran Snyder, the CEO of Textio, a software firm that did the analysis.
  • And it has an impact. "The people who receive the lowest-quality, least actionable feedback are also typically the groups of people who get paid the least."

More details: Women are more likely to be called "overachievers."

  • Translation: "Brilliant geniuses are expected to perform well; overachievers perform well despite having inherent limitations," Kieran Snyder explains in a column in Fortune. "Some groups are credited with more baseline talent than others."
  • None of these descriptors actually serve employees since they describe personality traits, not the kind of feedback that would help you grow at work.

The bottom line: The best performance reviews contain actionable feedback, Snyder tells Axios.

  • Instead of describing someone's personality or intelligence — by calling them a genius, or nice, or even collaborative — cite specific instances of their work.
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