Fighting The Good Fight Against Bias with Dolly Chugh

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So, with me today is Dolly Chugh who is talking to me about her new book, The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias. So, Dolly, welcome.

Thank you so much for having me. What an honor.

Well, it’s great to meet with you. Dolly, let’s start by, how do you answer the dinner party question, ‘What do you do?’

I love it. I say that I study the psychology of good people, and I do that as a professor who does research on the topic, writing on the topic, and someone who teaches twenty and thirty-somethings, MBA students as well as incarcerated students, so a real range of perspectives on what it means to be a good person.

And how did you get into this line of business?

I took the long scenic route. I always saw myself as going into a business field and that is what I did out of college. I worked in investment banking and consulting, I got an MBA, so I spent the first eleven years of my post-college work years very much in business and MBA type jobs. Then I went to my fifth year business school reunion and ended up having this epiphany where I was interacting with professors from business school and suddenly wondered what it was like to be them, and I found myself a bit more envious of the faculty than I was of my classmates who were zillionaires at the peak of the internet boom in the late nineties, and that started a thought process that then took a number of more years, but then in my mid-thirties I went back, got a PhD and started an academic career.

In the book, you describe yourself as an expert in unconscious biases. Maybe, for our audiences who perhaps maybe have different definitions of it, so from your point of view what are unconscious biases? And maybe you’ve got some examples of the kind of biases you bump into in the world of business you can share with us?

Sure, absolutely. So, in the lingo of psychologists, unconscious bias is bias that we are not necessarily aware of in our mind. It is sometimes referred to as implicit bias. From a very technical academic standpoint there are some differences in unconscious and implicit, but for our purposes people use those terms interchangeably, and the distinction between unconscious bias and conscious bias is that conscious bias is, ‘I have a preference between Apple and PC products,’ or ‘I have a preference between Coke and Pepsi,’ but perhaps there are ways that I’m not fully aware of in my automatically functioning mind, that part of my mind that is doing tons of work all the time at any given moment, processing eleven million bits of information, only forty of them consciously, that part of my brain that’s working automatically has associations. It has affinities that aren’t sitting in our conscious mind. Unconscious bias reflects those automatic associations we might have, and in the workplace that might mean that when I’m looking at the work of a man versus woman I may be unconsciously applying different criteria to their work. I may be looking for more signs of warmth than affability from the woman and more signs of assertiveness from the men, and even penalizing women who show the assertiveness or men who show the affability because in my unconscious mind I don’t associate the category they belong to with those characteristics. That’s one example.

And so that’s the gender bias example. What other types – I think in your book you refer to meritocracy bias and confirmation bias. Maybe you could just talk a bit more about those because those seem to be less well understood perhaps but also potentially equally important?

Yeah, thank you. So, there’s been three Nobel Prizes in the past forty years that have gone to the heart of these biases where the word bias doesn’t necessarily refer to race or gender, it just simply refers to a tendency of that unconscious mind to behave in a certain way, so that tendency is being called a bias. Different than that socially charged way we use the word. Two people who are particularly well known, one of whom won the Nobel Prize and the other would have had he not passed away first was Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and Slow, and Amos Tversky, his collaborator who passed away, and they did the seminal work on confirmation bias. For example, so they said there’s shortcuts your mind uses, that’s how it deals with the eleven million bits of information per moment, and those shortcuts are not random, they’re not just unpredictable, just thrashing their way through my mental life. I actually have patterns to the shortcuts I use, and they call them heuristics and biases, sort of shortcuts and tendencies in other words. Confirmation bias is when you hear what you want to hear. You decide that – the classic example is you go look up reviews online of a product that you’re already inclined to buy and you’re like, ‘Okay, I’ll just surf through these reviews on Amazon,’ or on Yelp, and you find yourself paying a lot of attention to those four and five star reviews and kind of discounting the one and two star reviews because you’re looking for the evidence that supports your point of view. Psychologist Tony Greenwald says confirmation bias means you’re not an objective judge looking for truth in the world, your mind is a lawyer looking for evidence to support her case.                                                                                                     

Yeah, I loved that quote. It’s a very powerful one that. I’m curious, you’ve given one example as us as consumers trying to find reasons to buy something, but how does this play out for instance in decision making in large corporations? Maybe you could bring that sort of example to life a little bit?

Sure, absolutely. So, for example, if we were hiring there’s a strong tendency we have to hire people who remind us of ourselves and for whom we feel that there are ways in which we can quickly connect the profile they offer to what we sort of have built in our mind as a model of success. So, the confirmation bias we have there is someone from my alma mater comes in to be interviewed, we know a few people in common, we share a hobby, we both train for marathons, I’m inclined at that point to look for reasons why this person might be the right candidate. It doesn’t mean that I’m always going to hire that person, but the confirmation bias is going to sort of turn that steering wheel in the direction of me looking for the pros not the cons in this candidate.

Yeah. I think we had a previous guest on who talked about the need to ignore the siren call of sameness, and I guess that’s-

Ah, good one.

It’s a lovely expression but I guess it’s dangerous when we’re hiring people like us because as you say it’s an illustration of the confirmation bias, but it doesn’t tap into maybe some of the diversity, and let’s come back to that in a minute. But, Dolly, maybe the meritocracy one because this was equally interesting and perhaps a slightly less well-known example, can you say a little bit about that?

Yeah. This is the idea that a meritocracy is one in which we believe people have gotten the results and the outcomes that they deserve, and that we in an organization are promoting the most deserving people and are unable to accurately perceive merit. We have a belief that meritocracies exist in many of our organizations or the illusion of a meritocracy, but in the US, for example, there are many systemic and historic contributors to us not having people even today starting on a level playing field, that there are headwinds and tailwinds that dramatically increase or decrease the odds of going to college and owning a home. For example, the biggest predictor of whether you own a home is whether your parents or grandparents owned a home. The biggest predictor of whether you go to college is whether your parents went to college, and as recently as in the last two generations in the US we’ve had very distinct systemic barriers that have made it difficult for, let’s say, African-Americans to access the same homeownership opportunities as whites. For example, the GI Bill which in the United States was after World War II, it was a really sweeping set of reforms that was intended to make homeownership and college education accessible to veterans who had served their country, and it’s often described in history books as creating a middle class in the United States and it did. What we don’t typically cover in depth in our history classes and in our textbooks is the fact that it did that for white Americans and white veterans, not for black veterans. There were really specific ways in which black veterans were excluded from those benefits of homeownership and college education, so when we look at the creation of the middle class in the United States and we see a disproportionate number of whites versus blacks, the illusion of meritocracy leads us to say, ‘Well, I guess it’s because the white Americans worked harder and were inclined to get an education,’ as opposed to saying, ‘In only the last couple of generations, there were ways in which black Americans didn’t have that same access available to them.’

Got it. Yeah, I was also wondering the extent to which it was connected with the lucky or smart kind of dialogue which a lot of people find themselves have been very successful but luck has played a significant role in that, but clearly the narrative that perhaps they tell themselves is around this, ‘Well, I deserved it, I worked hard, I did everything I needed to do,’ and I just wondered if there’s an angle to that as well?

Oh, that’s super, yeah. I mean I always like to say I’d rather be lucky than smart, but I know that I say that flippantly but the luck piece that we all kind of joke about is actually a huge contributor and it’s not a popular statement when I make it. An example I give is that I do a simulation when I teach of a game called Starpower, and I’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details about how we play this game, but basically this game starts out in a very jovial way where I’ll have fifty students participating in the game, competing, it’ll look like everybody kind of just drew different chips, picture like a poker game, you just kind of have whatever hand you drew at the beginning, but then as the game goes on, even though it was somewhat luck based, a hierarchy emerges where I have my high performers, my middle performers, and my low performers, and it is very clear that the people at the top attribute their high performance to their success, and their skill, and their work ethic, and their talent, and that the people not in that top group don’t see them the same way, and the truth is the way they got their chips at the beginning of the game was luck. It wasn’t. It wasn’t based off of anything. They literally closed their eyes and drew them. So, we’re all very quick to attribute our own successes to ourselves, humble-bragging aside, and attribute the failures of others to their own failures.

Yeah. So, maybe what we can do, Dolly, is move on to the business case for understanding biases, as you said in the introduction you do a lot of teaching of people, not just business twenty-year-olds and thirty-year-olds, but you also do quite a lot of workshops for you surfacing unconscious biases. In the book you talk about there’s a moral case for it, there’s a PR case for it, maybe you can talk about the business case in the context of growth, and innovation, and competitiveness. Maybe you can talk a little bit about why it’s so important to understand biases through that lens if you like?

Absolutely. So, the research on the relationship between diversity and performance is clear that there are tremendous business advantages that come with bringing in different perspectives and with leveraging those different perspectives into greater innovation, greater creativity, employee retention, recruiting success, bottom line results. That said it isn’t as easy as just throwing everybody in the same room, it has to come in an environment where you actually are able to tap into those different perspectives as opposed to just assume they will surface, and because we do tend to have these unconscious biases in ways that we don’t even intend, we may, in fact, be shutting down that kind of information exchange when we’ve done the work of bringing different perspectives into our organization but we haven’t done the work of realizing ways in which we may not be open to them either consciously or unconsciously.

Okay. And so, what does that work look like? Can we maybe get into some examples? And maybe I can just quote from the book. There was this wonderful example of this guy calling into the radio station and he says, ‘I’m a white male and I’m prejudiced. What can I do to change?’ So how do you help people, and perhaps listeners here are thinking, ‘Well, maybe I do some of this, maybe I don’t,’ what do you do with your clients if you like in this area?

Yeah, absolutely. So, the angle I take on this is, absolutely organizations have diversity training and are trying to change ways in which they hire and all of that, and that’s really important. It’s not where I focus. I’m glad other people are focusing there. What I focus on is what individuals need to be doing internally and in their own work in opening up their own mindset. So, what I push is the work of Carol Dweck, a psychologist who distinguishes between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. So, a growth mindset is where you see yourself as a work in progress, a fixed mindset is where you see yourself as kind of having figured something out or you’re never going to figure it out, you’re fixed wherever you are. Most of us have a fixed mindset on issues like diversity inclusion. If someone says, ‘You’re a racist,’ or ‘That was racist,’ or ‘That was sexist what you just said,’ we’re very quick to tell them, ‘No, I’m not a racist, I’m not a sexist, I’m not a homophobe.’ We go immediately into the fixed mindset response. Where I’m encouraging people to move is to activate your growth mindset. If someone says something to you, ‘That was sexist what you just said,’ instead of saying, ‘I’m not a sexist. What are you talking about?’ say, ‘Tell me more.’ An individual I used to work with, I once was disappointed in something he said in a public forum that struck me as both racist and sexist. I did not know him well and I did what you do in organizations, I went and griped about him behind his back. They did a little fuss about it without actually doing anything about it, and then finally a mutual friend of ours said to me, ‘Why don’t you just go talk to him?’ and I was like, ‘Oh no, no, no. It’s just not going to do that!’ Nobody likes to be told they’re racist or sexist and she said, ‘No, why don’t you go talk to him?’ and so I knocked on his door and introduced myself, we had seen each other around but didn’t know each other well, and I kind of blurted out, ‘I don’t think you meant to do it but the thing you said at that meeting really struck me as having some racist and sexist undertones,’ and to my surprise he said, ‘Oh wow, thank you for telling me. Do you have a minute? Can you sit down and tell me more?’ and we proceeded to have a really profound conversation. He’s now one of my closest friends and we both often talk about that particular conversation as being an example of a growth mindset where he instead of shutting down and saying, ‘I’m not a racist, I’m not a sexist,’ he acknowledged that if unconscious bias is a thing then sometimes we each do things we don’t intend. The question is not, ‘Did I or didn’t I?’ The question is, ‘What am I going to do about it now?’

Got it. So, it’s being willing to, I suppose, being humble enough and being curious enough and open enough to perhaps accept that the feedback you’re getting is on point, or there’s something there versus shutting it down straight away is what you’re saying?

That’s exactly right, and I would even go one step further and say for an audience like yours, it’s being literate enough, and by literate I mean psychologically literate that if we’re going to be open to this possibility that I may not be fully aware of everything going on in my mind, then also we’re accepting the reality that three Nobel Prizes have been given out based on that our mind works in automatic ways, that we’re not fully conscious, and so to go into the fixed mindset where you’re saying, ‘No, no, it couldn’t be me. I didn’t do it,’ is to ignore what we’ve learned in the last forty years about how the human mind works, so it reflects not only an openness but a psychological literacy.

Yeah, yeah. So, that’s the entry point or the onramp into the conversation is to be open to the possibility there might be some truth in that, but of course the example I gave quoting back from your book about the guy phoning in, I mean it’s pretty extreme behavior. Again, ‘I’m a white male, and I’m prejudiced. What can I do to change?’ So, what else can people do beyond sort of embracing the growth versus fix mindset approach?

Yeah, absolutely. So, something else that I’ve been talking a lot about is using something that I’m calling ordinary privilege, and I say this recognizing that the word privilege puts many people on edge, that it’s a very charged word, but I want to use it in a very specific way. We think about the part of our identity that blends into the background for us. So, for example, I’m straight and I can go weeks, months not thinking about the fact that I’m straight. Like if somebody asked, ‘What’d you do this weekend?’ and I don’t pause and think, ‘Oh, I’m straight. What can I tell them about what I did this weekend?’ The world works in my favor. All the tailwinds are sort of at my back, but if I were not straight I would have to think about can I trust this person, am I safe in the presence of this person, can I hold hands with my significant other in public? These are all choices, so I would be thinking about that every day. Pair that insight with one other insight. Research consistently shows that when a member of a targeted group speaks up on their own behalf they are not as influential as someone else outside that group speaking up. So, when a white person speaks up on race they are taken more seriously than when a black person speaks up on race. The mechanisms behind that, people are seen as whiny or having a sense of entitlement, even if the claim is accurate in both cases, so let’s put these together. So, I don’t think about the fact that I’m straight. It’s an ordinary part of my life that I don’t even think about, but if I say something about an LGBTQ issue I’m actually seen as less whiny than someone who is gay. Ordinary privilege is the idea that the parts of my identity that I think least about because the world is designed for people in that identity are also the places where I have the most influence, and so ordinary privilege is not something to be ashamed of, or to deny, or push away, it’s actually a place where I can actually do something. This is where I can take action. When I notice that there’s a pattern to how we’re recruiting, it’s something I can ask a question about. When I notice that certain people get interrupted in meetings more than others, it’s a place where I can jump in and ask them to finish their thought. When I am noticing that when we give examples about customers or we give examples about what success looks like in our organization, that it’s a particular profile that’s represented in that success, I can vary those profiles in the presentations and meetings I do. These are ways in which I can use my ordinary privilege in a source of strength, not a source of shame.

And that opportunity exists for everyone, right? I mean everyone can do that? 

Absolutely. Yeah, thanks for helping me make that clear. I would go so far as to say that there is nobody who doesn’t have some form of ordinary privilege, so it may be your sexual orientation, your religion, your first language, your gender, whether your cisgender or transgender, your race, there is some piece of your identity that is not a barrier for you. It could be physical ability, it could be mental ability.

I guess it could also, correct me if I’m wrong, if you’re in a deeply science-oriented organization, for instance, it can be bringing a completely different perspective to the traditional dialogues going on within meetings, where you’re encouraging people to look at the world from a very different perspective, one that isn’t the commonly held perspective in that organization?

Yeah, that’s really interesting. Absolutely, there’s huge benefits to having those very perspectives. I think in terms of whether it’s ordinary privilege per se depends on whether that different perspective is one that tends to be the more valued perspective with the tailwinds or does it have a headwind? Sometimes folks in a heavily science organization who are lacking the science background are seen as lacking.

Yeah, absolutely. Often in these kinds of organizations outsiders who don’t necessarily have that kind of training, that kind of background, there’s a ‘not invented here’ syndrome alive and well in those organizations, right?

That’s right.

You don’t understand our industry because you haven’t got this particular educational background for example?

Yes, exactly, exactly, or another version of that is, and this is particularly true in the worlds I work in with MBA students where the firms are recruiting from a very select group of schools, is that we are narrowing. It’s like ‘not invented here’ but it’s sort of ‘not educated here’. We’re really narrowing our view of what strong candidates look like.

Yeah. So, Dolly, I think another part of the book, I just wanted to make it explicit where you talk about sort of overcoming some of the biases. I think you talk about three steps you can take. One is making the invisible visible, the second is seeking out fresh perspectives, and then the third is asking people outside of our echo chambers for fresh perspectives. Interested in just a bit of comment around around that, for example any people you’ve worked with who’ve gone on that journey, any war stories around that because that felt really rather sort of relevant for our audience to put this whole topic into a bit more perspective or into practical terms for them if you like?

Yeah, absolutely. I think social media, we’re going through a period where social media is getting a really bad rap for lots of good reasons, but what we’re losing in this view of social media is the opportunities it has to do the things you just listed which is open up our perspectives, tune into different perspectives. It’s never been easier to eavesdrop on other people than it is now through social media, and so I’ve been noticing, in contrast to all the fighting that goes on the internet and social media, I have been noticing some people really opening up their minds through social media and tuning in, eavesdropping, peeking into worlds that are very different than their own. And one example I give in the book is Rick Klau who’s a senior executive at Google Ventures, and he came to realize after actually after some unconscious bias training that was done in his organization, he had really perceived himself as ‘one of the good guys’, someone who promoted women, hired women, like really progressive in that sense, and he is and he was but one thing he noticed after the unconscious bias training was he started auditing his social media and he realized he was overwhelmingly tuning into male perspectives over female perspectives whether it was LinkedIn, whether it was Twitter, and so he hadn’t realized he was doing that and he has an important voice and platform in his industry where his social media presence is actually influential, it’s not just a hobby, it’s not just recreation, it actually plays an important role in people’s careers, and connection of ideas, and people. So, he actively started shifting and following more women on social media and, he said it completely opened up his mind. He said, ‘You hear one woman occasionally say something about sexual harassment and maybe don’t completely process it as an issue,’ and this was before the Me Too movement took off, he said, ‘Then you start tuning into more women and you start realizing this is a pattern, this is happening to everyone.’ It really opened up his mind, and his eyes, and his heart in a new and richer way, so I’m bullish on social media works for good.

Wonderful. And this concept of echo chambers, you refer to that quite frequently in the book around sort of eavesdropping on to other people’s echo chambers, but clearly the bubbles that we live in and the feeds that continue to spit stuff out towards us, we need to be very careful that we’re not falling into that trap and it sounds like the training that he went through and that the insight that he derived from that was quite profound for him.

Exactly, and I think he just set such a great example for all of us of what a growth mindset looked like. He did have a certain view of himself, but he was able to morph it, he was like, ‘Maybe I’m a work in progress. Maybe it’s just a matter of kind of realizing I have a little work to do.’ 

Yeah, and then he’s obviously Google Ventures but you also touched on the work of Laszlo Bock who wrote the foreword to the book, he’s the ex-Head of HR, I guess, or People Operations for Google, and he talked about nudges and I’m just interested in maybe some more examples of that. I mean how do they work in the context of biases? What kind of results were they able to get using nudges?

Absolutely. So, the term nudges comes from Richard Thaler who’s actually one of the Nobel Prize winners I referred to earlier, he and Cass Sunstein describe a nudge as something where you’re not mandating that someone do something but you’re making the easy option the one that would be in a direction – if you were demanding to do something this is where it would be, right? So, the classic example is that when you go to the grocery store certain cereals are on eye level and so that is a nudge that you’re going to be more inclined to buy the cereals on eye level rather than bending down or reaching up for the other ones, that’s a nudge. In the context of diversity and inclusion, nudges are things like ensuring that you have different perspectives in your hiring process so that you’re not only bringing in one perspective or one background in looking at resumes. Some organizations are taking names off of resumes. Some organizations are processing their job descriptions through artificial intelligence software that can analyze based off of how job descriptions have been responded to in the past which language in your job description is going to be more or less likely to attract male candidates, female candidates, or members of other groups so that you can make your job description appeal to as broad an audience as possible not because you’re changing the job but because you’re changing how you describe the job. Some organizations have tried when you look at resumes rather than looking at them one at a time as they come in or in a pile going through them one at a time, looking them in what’s called a joint evaluation way meaning side by side, two resumes side by side. We tend to be less biased in how we review resumes when we do a comparison between two candidates rather just look at them one at a time. So, these are all ways in which different organizations, Google’s famous for the ways in which they’ve experimented with people operations which is why I was so honored that Laszlo did write the foreword, and his new organization Humu is trying to take those kinds of nudges to a broader scale, not just on diversity inclusion but in general related to human capital.

Right, yeah, no it’s fascinating work from him. So, Dolly, what I’d love to do now is, I think time is marching on, maybe we can go to wrap up with the three questions that I sent through to you earlier. The first one – what have you changed your mind about recently?

Yeah. You know, changed my mind, opened my mind, grown my mind, I think transgender issues are something that I was a few years ago somewhere between confused and judgmental about, and I have slowly, I don’t think I’m judgmental anymore, I think I’m still confused but less confused as I’ve grown my knowledge base, but I’ve really come to see that this isn’t something that’s a fad, that there’s real pain and real need for us to understand the journeys people are on, and the urgency and need they feel around that journey.

And what was it specifically, was there something that prompted you to re-evaluate your view on the subject, or has it just evolved?

Yeah, it’s evolved but there’s three moments that stand in my mind. One of them I actually share in the book about Mel Wymore, who’s a really terrific community organizer in New York City who I interviewed for the book, and I’m sure I had met people who were transgender before but he’s the first person I’d met who I knew was transgender, and so humanizing the issue and me realizing that he was having to work a lot harder than I was in terms of just humanizing that interaction was a wakeup call to me, that I needed to do my own homework and not expect other people do it for me. A second thing was I have a friend Kristina Olson, a psychologist who studies children who are transgender and their families, and she has shared with me the incredible challenges these children face and the love they receive when they receive love from their families and acceptance, how powerful it is and her stories just will bring you to tears, and so as a parent it was hard to ignore that. And the third thing is I hate to give the Kardashians more publicity and I’m not a fan, sorry for all the Kardashian fans I just offended, but Bruce Jenner, Caitlin Jenner’s interview, and I can’t remember which big interviewer it was but maybe it was Barbara Walters, that interview really touched me and I went into it judging and came out far more open so again humanizing.

Interesting. My daughter’s a great Kardashian fan-

Oh, sorry!

No, not at all, but it’s interesting because the point I think you’re making is that when the issue becomes humanized then you become more open to it, assuming you have the growth mindset you’re more willing to explore the topic versus shut it down if it remains at arm’s length.

Absolutely, and I really do see myself as a work in progress. I make mistakes in this area all the time and I look back at even just one, two, three years ago and I go, ‘Ah, God, yikes!’ but it’s okay, I’m a work in progress.

Yeah, excellent. Next question, where do you go to get your fresh perspectives to stay innovative and creative?

Yeah. So, I already did my spiel about social media, but I’ll just echo that, I would say that my greatest source of personal and professional development right now is Twitter, that putting in any particular hashtag just has opened up the world for me and allowed me to not be limited to what I hear through traditional media. So, that’s one just like from the comfort of my home I can do that, but also, I’m a really avid reader and I’m what I call a born-again reader. I was very into reading as a kid and then kind of decided I was too important and busy to read for the next thirty years, and then in my forties realized how stupid that was and just made the time, and so now I feel like that’s another place, I take a lot of care in what books I select and what authors I listen to, and I really do think that pushes my thinking a lot.

Brilliant. Excellent. And then thirdly, what’s been your most significant failure or low, and what did you learn from it and how have you applied that learning?

Yeah. So, I know time is marching on, but I have to share a quick anecdote on this. So, you know I read that question that you kindly offered in advance and I read it to some family members and I said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve had any failures. I can’t think of anything that was a failure,’ and my husband was just looking at me incredulously, he was like, ‘What are talking about? Like, you have so many failures,’ and I was like, ‘Really?’ and then starts listing them off, ‘Oh, in Grad School you didn’t get a single study to work, you were zero for forty, you couldn’t get any agent to sign you for the book, that took a couple of years, you had rejection,’ he just starts listing them off and I was like, ‘oh, well when you put it that way I’m just a huge failure. I mean, God you could slow down now. It’s okay, I get it.’ So, the reason I tell that story is because I think for whatever reason I have a knack of not calling failures failures, so I think I fail probably more than average but because I actually don’t use that word, I don’t deliberately not use that word, I just don’t code them as failures, they don’t go in that column. I’m somehow not fazed by them, but most recently I would say this book that’s coming out for me is one that I have cared passionately about for years but it took me a couple of years to get people to believe in it, and I eventually did find a wonderful agent Leila Campoli who totally believed in it and got it, but I had many good meetings. I’m fortunate that I work in a world where a lot of people write books so it wasn’t hard for me to get introductions to people, the gatekeepers of the publishing industry, but one after another they said, ‘No, no, no, no, no,’ or encouraged me to pivot beyond the ideas I wrote about in this book, and so I think many people would have viewed that as a failure, that it took that long especially when I’m in a peer group of professors that do get book deals pretty quickly and easily, that I seemed to be the one person who wasn’t getting one, but in my mind I was just waiting for the right agent.

Yeah, and the book launches soon, and the story isn’t finished, but it will be great to see how it lands and you know it really has been a great pleasure having you on the show. Now, Dolly, where can people get in touch with you if they wanted to follow up with you individually or follow your work?

Oh, sure. My website is and has all my information is there.

Super, and Twitter, LinkedIn, all those links are in there as well are they, on your website?

Oh, yeah, of course. I am on Twitter, I am on LinkedIn, I am on Good Reads. I pretend to be on Instagram, but my kids are posting on it because I’m so confused by it.

Well, we’ll put all the links in the show notes, but it’s been a great pleasure having you on the show, and it’s, as I say, a really important topic and the way you’re approaching it is fresh and compelling and will be very relevant, I’ve got no doubt at all, for our listeners. So, many thanks for your time today.

And for yours as well. What a thrill, Mark, to be on your show. It’s so influential and your voice is so important especially now. Thank you.

Wonderful. Well, have a great day. Thanks.

You too. Bye.



In this episode, we are joined by author and social scientist, Dolly Chugh, to discuss her book, The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias, which studies how implicit bias and unintentional ethical behavior affects our everyday decision making. Dolly is a Professor of Management and Organizations at New York University, has won several awards for excellence in teaching and ethics, and is a monthly columnist for

What We Covered

  • Why our brains are biased, and the ways in which we can begin to recognize our own conscious and unconscious biases
  • Why confirmation bias can hinder the success of a recruiting the best potential talent in the workplace
  • How we can learn to recognize and use our own privileges to challenge and help change other people’s biases

Key Takeaways and Learnings

  • The growth mindset: why seeing ourselves as a ‘work in progress’ can help us to learn from other perspectives
  • Conscious and unconscious biases: why affinities and associations with our personal identity can lead us to make less successful decisions
  • The business benefits that come from bringing in different perspectives to core business processes, including higher levels of innovation, increased creativity, improved employee retention and recruiting success

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Mark Bidwell

Mark Bidwell

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