Getting to Yes, And

Dr. Dolly Chugh: The Person You Mean To Be


Dr. Dolly Chugh, NYU

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Kelly connects with Dr. Dolly Chugh who studies implicit bias at The Stern School of Business (NYU). Her new book has some surprising and useful insights into how all of us have biases - and how we can become better builders for inclusion and equity.

The idea at the heart of this book is that people’s need to feel as if they are a good person can get in their way of actually being a better person?

“I have a 13 year old daughter who's a very avid Mets fan and we live in the New York area and if somebody mistakenly thinks she's a Yankees fan, this is a blow to her identity. Like, how could they think I'm a Yankees fan? So any identity that we value, when it's not granted by other people or even by ourselves, we just go into the red zone. One of those identities is our ‘moral identity,’ as psychologists call it,  and it is pretty important to most people. If you put your moral identity on a one to seven scale, my guess is a lot of your listeners would put themselves on a six or seven on a one to seven scale: meaning, they feel they are a good person and should be seen as a good person. And given that that's part of their identity, it’s something a lot of people care about. What I'm really interested in exploring is how is that identity that we care deeply about in some ways caring about being a good person, how's it getting in the way of us being better people?”

You have a story in the book about a good intentioned person who can’t pronounce a colleague’s name, and you discovered that’s something you did as well. And it’s an issue.

“This was just a breakthrough moment for me in recognizing that I wasn't being the person I need to be despite my best intentions by not calling on students whose names I don't know how to say.  I'm creating all these barriers and distance between people. Because whatever background they're from, somebody who loved them - one of the most important decisions that was made in their lives was to give them that name. And for me to not even be willing to try to put the effort in to Google how to pronounce the name? It turns out, when you Google how to pronounce any name, you immediately get sound files. Like, you just have to press play and you can hear someone say it.  You don't have to do what I did once, when I called someone's voicemail in the middle of the night and then realize they forwarded it to their home phone.”

One of the things I loved about this book is how practical it is when it comes to issues of diversity and inclusion and the realization that we are constantly getting in our own way and we don’t need to be.

“I've learned this wonderful metaphor that I've found is really helpful and that’s looking at our bias like we look at technology. When it comes to technology, we assume that we're going to constantly have to be a work in progress and we will always be learning new things: ‘How do I upload this and download that?’ Somebody showed me how to do this but I'm going to have to ask an expert. I'm going to screw it up. And we assume that every year we are going to have to learn something new and adjust. What if we thought that way about these issues around diversity and inclusion? We don't think of ourselves as works in progress.”

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