Managers’ Prior Work Evaluations Can Affect Diversity Efforts | MIT Sloan School of Management

Leadership & Culture

One aspect of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) that has received much attention is the “E” or equity component. As defined by the Harvard Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Glossary of Terms, equity refers to fair treatment for all while striving to identify and eliminate inequities and barriers. And while there are many determinants of equity in the workplace, this new research by MIT Sloan explores how equity is affected by how managers assess and apply merit when making hiring, performance, and talent decisions. The authors submit that managers’ prior career experience shapes their approaches to evaluating merit and talent. For example, 1) managers who had mostly positive evaluation outcomes in their careers took a diffuse approach to applying merit—where they consider an employee as both an individual and a team member. The employee’s work actions and personal qualities are considered on a quantitative and qualitative level. 2) Managers who experienced mostly negative outcomes as employees tended to be narrower in applying merit. They employ a focused approach that assesses an employee on an individual level and quantitatively evaluates their work. And while one limitation of the study is that it’s based on a small sample of MBA students, the findings reinforce how important it is for organizations to build managers’ capability to fairly assess talent; this capability enables organizations to achieve more equitable talent outcomes. The article includes a link to the academic version of this research, which can also be accessed here.

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