Are These 7 Inequitable Practices Holding Your Organization Back?

Everyday barriers can prevent employees from feeling happy, safe, and successful in their jobs. And since many of these barriers are cemented in widely established and accepted talent and compensations systems, they can continue to passively perpetuate inequities.

Here are seven barriers Edgility is focused on identifying and removing to help drive equity and growth within your organization.

1. Offering employees growth opportunities only after demonstrating strong performance

Managers often wait to offer employees projects that empower them to expand their skills until they’ve proven themselves in their existing roles. Giving employees “stretch” projects helps them grow, while also building confidence and goodwill. By withholding such opportunities, employees will seek them out elsewhere, leading to high turnover.

2. Reserving coaching for struggling performers

Typically, struggling performers and “squeaky wheels” get coaching and focused attention, while everyone else is left to their own devices. Making coaching accessible to all employees helps them feel nurtured and ensures they have the support they need, even if they’re less comfortable advocating for themselves.

3. Lack of upward feedback and skip-level meetings

Managers typically don’t receive feedback from their direct reports as part of formal reviews. Often, there’s an assumption that people are performing well at the management level, resulting in a lack of accountability for how managers lead their teams. Skip-level meetings allow lower-level employees to provide input to higher-level employees in a safe environment.

4. Operating with a fixed talent mindset

Many biases can result in leadership viewing certain employees as superstars and others as not. Assuming talent can’t be developed over time leads management to invest only in the highest performing employees. This kind of fixed talent mindset is especially prevalent in management consulting firms and can put undue pressure on excluded employees to take on more responsibility in the absence of professional investment.

5. Failing to objectively measure promotion readiness

Halo bias influences how we think about someone we’ve already labeled as impressive. We’re more likely to believe that person can do anything well, leading to undeserved promotions. It’s important to define clear metrics around required performance in an employee’s current role and proficiency in the skills they need for their next role to give them clear goals to work towards and help managers remain objective.

6. Not assessing management skills for positions with direct reports

Too often an employee who has excelled as an individual contributor is promoted into a role with direct reports without any assessment of their management capabilities. Being a manager requires a specific set of skills that should be assessed before an employee is promoted to avoid the negative optics of valuing one employee at the expense of multiple employees.

7. Feedback isn’t tied to a framework

When feedback lacks context, it can feel like a shock to employees (i.e. “You never told me I had to do this, but now you’re telling me I’m not doing it well”). Many managers don’t identify what skills and behaviors are needed, or provide specific feedback in those areas. This makes it difficult to justify raises and promotions. It’s critical to tie feedback to a clearly communicated framework and set of expectations to set the bar for employees, rather than creating an uncommunicated barrier to advancement.

Often, managers and leadership are unwittingly reinforcing barriers that stifle their employees’ growth. By scrutinizing status quo systems and making equity the foundation of hiring, compensation and growth practices moving forward, organizations can help promote greater fairness, well-being, and success among all employees.


Put your values to work. Act on equity.

We believe equity isn’t a box to check. It’s a daily action. Someone’s unique identity isn’t something to overcome–when paired with the right opportunity, it becomes one of their greatest professional assets. We exist to empower social impact organizations to recognize and overcome unconscious bias, racism and sexism so they can build a workforce that reflects and strengthens the communities they serve.