If You Are an Employer: Take a look at the articles under “Further Reading” and start formulating a plan for creating written criteria for promotion. Start by creating a detailed description for each position within your firm. Try to focus as much as possible on specific, objective criteria that are necessary for the success in the position, and avoid using descriptors that are stereotypically associated with one race or gender. Share these descriptions with your employees, and use them to discuss employee performance, areas for individual growth, and to track progress towards promotion eligibility. When it comes time to evaluate employees for a promotion, develop a standardized process for creating an employee talent profile and use these profiles to compare against your written promotion criteria.
If You Have an Employer: Approach your employer using the information from this post. Explain the importance of having a transparent promotion process (the “why it is important” section below is a great place to start!). After explaining these ideas, provide a solution by suggesting that written performance criteria for promotions can help neutralize bias in the promotion process. Use the articles in the “Further Reading” to begin to develop a method of writing performance criteria for promotions.
Why it is important:
Diversity is important in helping business to achieve their goals and many companies are pursuing diversity initiatives to demonstrate that support. Unfortunately, few companies are actually seeing results from these diversity initiatives. One of the driving reasons for this problem is that woman and people of color are often passed over for leadership roles due to unconscious bias. Publishing written criteria for promotion processes helps to neutralize this bias and identify the best talent by identifying the objective criteria that are most likely to be predictive of success in a given role.
Using written criteria for positions as an integral part of the promotion process is also strongly correlated with measures of employee satisfaction. The 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey asked respondents about their perceptions of a number of aspects of their work lives, ranging from whether they felt that they shared their firm's values to whether they were confident in their ability to do their jobs, to whether they thought they had enough time and energy to pursue their interests outside of work. Of the 14 categories of career perceptions tracked by the survey, the most negative average perceptions were related to the perceived effectiveness of respondents' firms' promotion processes. Only 41% of men, and 32% of women described this process as “very” or “somewhat" effective with the remainder of respondents indicating that it was "hard to say," or that the process was "very" or "somewhat" ineffective. Respondents opinions of their firm's promotion process were strongly linked with the criteria that respondents said that their firms used to determine promotion. Amongst those who reported that their firms used written criteria for a position to determine promotion eligibility, respondents were much more likely to approve of their firms' process, with 57% of male respondents, and 52% of female respondents, in this group reporting that their firm's process was "very" or "somewhat" effective. Meanwhile, those who said that their firms used relationships with principals or partners, tenure, or unclear or undefined criteria less likely to view the process as effective.
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