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Most of us like to believe we are “good people.” But, despite the large number of good people in the world, bias persists within many of our societal systems and organizations. If so many of us are good, why does society continue to tolerate bias, and how can we change for the better?

Award-winning social psychologist and New York University (NYU) Stern School of Business Professor Dolly Chugh (she/her, hear her name) has the answer: let go of our internal definition of a “good person.” In her interactive presentations and fireside chats, Chugh illustrates clear, actionable techniques for leaders interested in listening with intent, increasing accountability and raising inclusivity. Her TED Talk on these groundbreaking concepts was named one of the 25 Most Popular TED Talks of 2018 and currently has almost 5 million views.

“What if I told you that our attachment to being good people is getting in the way of us being better people?” Dolly asks. “We have this definition of good person that’s either or. Either you are a good person or you’re not. And in this either-or definition, there’s no room to grow. In every other part of our lives, we give ourselves room to grow… except in this one, where it matters most.”

At NYU Stern, Chugh’s top-rated classes on cutting-edge leadership, management and negotiation strategies are lauded for their transformational effect on students and executives alike. Noted for her teaching and facilitation skills, Chugh was one of six professors chosen from thousands at NYU to receive the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2020 and one of five to receive the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Faculty Award in 2013. Her newest research, which focuses on “bounded ethicality,” explores and explains the “psychology of good-ish people.”

Dolly Chugh presents on stage at TED Boston Consulting Group
Dolly Chugh speaks at TED@BCG – October 3, 2018 at Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto, Canada. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

“The person I mean to be stands up for equality, equity, and diversity and inclusion. The person I mean to be fights bias. Sometimes, I do. Sometimes, I don’t,” Chugh admits. “As a believer in these values, I need to do better. The research is there to help us move from having the identity of a believer to the skills of a builder, someone prepared for the necessary growing and grappling involved in driving change.”

Noting that many of the key principles of leadership and management are essentially principles of inclusion, Chugh partners her approachable personality with decades of research to illustrate the small interventions we can take to make a disproportionately positive impact.

An award-winning author, Chugh’s critically-acclaimed, bestselling book, “The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias” (2018), explores surprising concepts that hold organizations back from achieving success and unpacks the tools believers must use to become builders. Her popular newsletter Dear Good People – a free monthly email offering bite-sized and actionable advice on how to be the inclusive person YOU mean to be – continues to grow as she pursues new avenues to create and disseminate knowledge. Her next book, “A More Just Future: Psychological Tools for Reckoning with our Past and Driving Social Change” (Atria Books, October 2022), is already reviewed as a “revolutionary, evidence-based guide for developing resilience and grit and building a better future.” Grounded in established principles such as growth mindset and psychological safety, Chugh’s prominent and refreshing new thinking on empathetic leadership is already helping create more inclusive organizations.

“The fixed mindset tax can be costly for organizations, but research shows we can escape the either/or mindset,” Chugh emphasizes. “By removing the pressure of being a ‘good person’ and equipping people with the right tools, we can make mistakes and learn from them, making mistakes less likely in the future.”

Dolly Chugh is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Praise for Dolly Chugh

“Dolly Chugh joined our organization for a virtual fireside chat focused on advancing a human-centered approach to diversity, equity and inclusion. We often do sessions like this, but Dolly’s session was special – in terms of the number of people that joined and the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received. That’s because Dolly is a special speaker. As in her beautifully written, and thoroughly-researched, book (“The Person You Mean to Be”) and its complementary newsletter (Dear Good People), Dolly speaks from the heart, with a deep sense of self-awareness, empathy, and authority. Her research is insightful, her knowledge is both lived and learned, and her delivery is pitch-perfect. She is a powerful addition to any event.” — Zachary N. Coseglia, Managing Principal, Head of Innovation, and Co-Lead, R&G Insights Lab at Ropes & Gray LLP

“The fireside chat with Dolly was excellent; truthfully, it far exceeded my expectations. I received so much positive feedback from teachers and staff and administrators. Everyone spoke about how much they learned and how inspired and hopeful they left the session. Thank you again, Dolly, for helping to facilitate such a meaningful experience for our community.” — Dr. Tony Sinanis, Assistant Superintendent for HR & Leadership Development, Chappaqua Central School District

“[Dolly Chugh] advised us to identify our short-term and long-term priorities and to put people or things in place to help us align our actions to those priorities. This advice has been so valuable at school because there are so many interesting things going on all of the time that I’ve had to find a way to say no to the things that don’t align with my priorities. It’s not easy for me to say no but it has become a lot more manageable because I know that I’m saying no in order to stick to what matters most to me in life.” — McKinsey Consultant Jennifer Wynn, Women at Business School, Financial Times

“The Fireside Chat was amazing, I know everyone wished we could have had even longer with Dolly! The content was incredibly relatable and we have heard a lot of positive feedback. The concepts Dolly shared really resonated and many people talked about how they will readily implement the actions Dolly recommended.” — Airbnb

Praise for “A More Just Future”

“This is the thoughtful and brilliant work we’ve all been waiting for that will help readers grapple with our legacy of systemic racism- both past and present. ‘A More Just Future’ expertly provides readers with indispensable practical and evidence-based tools to overcome the psychological barriers that impede us from truly reckoning with injustice.”­ — Uché Blackstock, MD, Founder and CEO, Advancing Health Equity, Author of “Legacy”

“Dolly Chugh is the wisest and warmest of behavioral scientists. Let her show you how to unpack your own mistaken assumptions about our past so that our unconditional love for our nation can co-exist with unflinching honesty. Patriotism need not be simplistic to be idealistic. This book is a welcome and urgent invitation to open our eyes to the past and become better ancestors today.” — Angela Duckworth, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of “Grit”

Praise for “The Person You Mean to Be”

“Finally: an engaging, evidence-based book about how to battle biases, champion diversity and inclusion, and advocate for those who lack power and privilege. Dolly Chugh makes a convincing case that being an ally isn’t about being a good person—it’s about constantly striving to be a better person.” — Adam Grant, New York Times Bestselling Author

When an organization makes meaningful commitments to DEI as a strategic priority, their welcoming culture and aligned teams attract star talent. Stern connects you with renowned thought leaders whose insights, strategies and management frameworks help organizations fuel growth and disruptive innovation to better compete in a constantly changing world. Let us arrange for these esteemed experts to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting sessions, workshops and keynotes.

The “Good-Ish” Guide for Impactful Inclusion was last modified: October 5th, 2022 by Meg Virag