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People of color (POCs) receive less feedback than their peers. Why? Managers 1) fear being perceived as racist, 2) fear hard conversations and 3) invest less time & attention on POC reports. POCs deserve better. Here are a few tips if you agree:
#1 - Fear of being perceived as racist. The (often unconscious) thought process goes: By avoiding giving feedback altogether, I will eliminate all possibility of being perceived as biased or discriminatory./2
This colorblind strategy has become especially prevalent in the era of cancel culture. People leaders are increasingly wary of interacting with employees of color. It feels like a minefield and they’d rather avoid the liability altogether./3
The problem, of course, is that colorblind diversity efforts don’t work and employees can’t grow without feedback./4
Tip: Remember that feedback is a gift. Withholding that gift from reports likely conflicts with your egalitarian values. Effective managers design their work weeks to mechanize the gift exchange between them and their reports./5
Calendar those recurring 1:1s and follow a common agenda that includes real estate to discuss how your employees can be even more effective so that constructive feedback becomes and expectation./6
#2 - Fear of the reaction. Another explicit manager concern is the fear of having a tough feedback conversation, which can feel even tougher when it’s across identity lines./7
Tip: If the feedback you’re giving is against clear role expectations or performance metrics, you have to give it. Your employee’s success is your own. Approach tough conversations with a collaborative growth orientation./8
Reaffirm the expectations, engage your employee in an analysis of why they weren’t met & reassure them that you’re partners in their growth. In other words, you have to suck it up. Feedback is easy when it’s positive but it’s most valuable when it’s constructive./9
#3 - Bias. We tend to invest time & attention in employees who fit a mold (prototype bias), fit what we’ve seen before (status quo bias), or look/seem like us (similarity bias)./10
This means that – over time – managers can grow relatively unfamiliar with the work product of employees of color. As a result, managers can simply have less to say about black and brown people’s contributions./11
Tip: Equalize small moments. Assess who’s getting you off book. Informal coaching & impression formation happens all the time - in a text, over Slack, in the coffee line. Odds are that time isn’t distributed evenly across employees or lines of difference./12
Bridge the gap with proactive overtures to employees who aren’t organically getting enough of your love. These micro corrections funnel up to mitigate the halo/horns effect and recency bias, which are common during formal performance reviews./13
These are 3 most prominent roadblocks to sufficient coaching cultures for POCs that I’ve observed across the orgs I’ve consulted for, led #diversity #equity & #inclusion for, and worked in as an employee of color myself.

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