We frequently write about the kinds of biases and mistreatment that many Americans face while they are at work. Some forms of discrimination and mistreatment are obvious. For example, if your boss insists that he will fire you unless you sleep with him, you can be assured that he is behaving in an illegal manner. However, other forms of employment discrimination and harassment are more subtle. It is often difficult for workers to discern whether or not these more subtle negative behaviors are acceptable. It is important to understand that simply because a discriminatory or harassing behavior is subtle does not mean that this behavior is necessarily legal or in any way acceptable.
One subtle form of discrimination that is occurring in workplaces across the nation manifests in the ways in which performance reviews tend to differ if they are being conducted in regards to male or female employees. A recent study conducted on behalf of Fortune.com indicates that two major differences tend to color performance reviews conducted on behalf of one sex or another.
Specifically, the study concludes that females receive more negative feedback than males do. And perhaps most importantly, the study concludes that more than 75 percent of negative feedback included on performance reviews for female workers includes personality criticism, while only two percent of performance reviews for male workers include personality criticism.
The fact that a staggering percentage of females receive personality criticism in their performance reviews while almost no males do is unacceptable. And it is worth noting that this kind of criticism may serve as a red flag for other kinds of discriminatory treatment of female workers in any given workplace.
Source: The New York Times, “Learning to Love Criticism,” Tara Mohr, Sept. 27, 2014