Women, Performance Management & COVID-19

June 25th, 2020

As leaders, one of the things we most want to create is an environment in which the people who work with us – regardless of who they are – have equal opportunities to advance. Yet, collectively, we're failing at this. Though women and men enter the workforce in equal numbers and are equally competent, on average, men hold more managerial positions (62%) than women (38%). While a variety of reasons may exist for these different percentages, one factor flies under the radar in many organizations, even though we know it influences both promotion and compensation decisions: performance management (PM).

Our research on performance management revealed, like so many others have found before us, that men and women have different experiences with it, resulting in women experiencing systemic inequality. This is despite changes to make PM more “modern.”

Before COVID-19 was even a thing, we undertook a holistic study of women and performance management to understand:

  • Are the changes to modern performance management practices resulting in women and men having the same experience?
  • And, if not, then what are the differences and what can organizations do about them?

The resulting study, Leveling the Field: Making Performance Management Work for Women, was ready for publication in mid-March – just as COVID-19 took over everyone’s worlds. Instead of publishing a study that would get drowned out in the craziness of the times, we held on to it. But then we decided we could – and must – adapt what we learned in Leveling the Field to fit our current moment.

The result is The Double-Double Shift: Supporting Women’s Performance Management During a Pandemic, which presents a very realistic look at how the COVID-19 global pandemic is impacting the ways women are perceived during this new work-from-home environment, as well as the additional challenges they now face. In this second study, we focus on questions such as:

  • How might the unconscious biases women already face worsen in – and be mitigated by – a long-term work-from-home environment?
  • Given what we know about how to make PM more equitable for women, how might we alter our practices in this current environment to level the playing field?
  • How can leaders address these challenges now, before less effective practices solidify in this new working environment?

We are publishing both studies together, as we think they each represent timely and useful insights for our readers. The Double-Double Shift is very targeted at what is happening right now, pulling some of the most relevant information from Leveling the Field, and augmenting it with COVID-19 and work-from-home specific details. Leveling the Field is our original report, and has a lot more overall details and suggestions to consider. We think readers will find value in reading both, and leveraging the self-check assessments and “getting started” suggestions.

Please reach out to us at [email protected] with any questions, comments, or suggestions. If you would like an infographic summary of Leveling the Field, click here.

If you would like an infographic summary of The Double-Double Shift, click here.

Stacia Garr Redthread Research
Stacia Garr
Co-Founder & Principal Analyst