The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias
Foreword by Laszlo Bock, the bestselling author of Work Rules! and former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google
An inspiring guide from Dolly Chugh, an award-winning social psychologist at the New York University Stern School of Business, on how to confront difficult issues including sexism, racism, inequality, and injustice so that you can make the world (and yourself) better.
Many of us believe in equality, diversity, and inclusion. But how do we stand up for those values in our turbulent world? The Person You Mean to Be is the smart, "semi-bold" person’s guide to fighting for what you believe in.
Dolly reveals the surprising causes of inequality, grounded in the “psychology of good people.” Using her research findings in unconscious bias as well as work across psychology, sociology, economics, political science, and other disciplines, she offers practical tools to respectfully and effectively talk politics with family, to be a better colleague to people who don’t look like you, and to avoid being a well-intentioned barrier to equality. Being the person we mean to be starts with a look at ourselves.
She argues that the only way to be on the right side of history is to be a good-ish— rather than good—person. Good-ish people are always growing. Second, she helps you find your “ordinary privilege”—the part of your everyday identity you take for granted, such as race for a white person, sexual orientation for a straight person, gender for a man, or education for a college graduate. This part of your identity may bring blind spots, but it is your best tool for influencing change. Third, Dolly introduces the psychological reasons that make it hard for us to see the bias in and around us. She leads you from willful ignorance to willful awareness. Finally, she guides you on how, when, and whom, to engage (and not engage) in your workplaces, homes, and communities. Her science-based approach is a method any of us can put to use in all parts of our life.
Whether you are a long-time activist or new to the fight, you can start from where you are. Through the compelling stories Dolly shares and the surprising science she reports, Dolly guides each of us closer to being the person we mean to be.
Praise for The Person You Mean to Be
“Dolly Chugh applies the power of a growth mindset to work on equity and inclusion at a time when it is much-needed. The Person You Mean to Be is essential reading.”
— Carol Dweck, bestselling author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
“This is a book for anyone who thinks of themselves as a pretty decent human being but who knows, deep in their heart, they could be better. A cocktail of stories and science that gets you thinking and, more important, gets you acting.”
— Angela Duckworth, founder and CEO of Character Lab and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
“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 of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B (with Sheryl Sandberg)
“Never has an author made it so easy to see our blind spots and the downsides of our best intentions. Dolly Chugh’s brilliant lens reveals the invisible, uncomfortable truths of ordinary privilege, yet offers a light that inspires and guides each of us to be the moral, inclusive leader we hope to be.”
— Liz Wiseman, New York Times bestselling author of Multipliers and Rookie Smarts
“Dolly Chugh helps us identify our ‘platform of privilege’ and guides us on how we can use this and other tools to create positive change. She encourages us to accentuate our strengths and to manage our weaknesses, and forces us to focus on being better and stronger in everything we do.”
— Billie Jean King, social justice pioneer and tennis champion
“Dolly Chugh has written the most important and actionable book on reducing bias that I have read. Using powerful and enduring findings from research on bias, she explains the reasons we fail to be the person we mean to be and provides prescriptions for managing the pitfalls of our humanness. This deeply personal book is a must-read.”
— David Thomas, president of Morehouse College and author of Leading for Equity and Breaking Through
“In authoritative yet accessible prose, social psychologist Dolly Chugh outlines how we can all make the indispensable shift from being ‘believers’ who live under the ideal of inclusion to being ‘builders’ who live up to that ideal. This book is both guide and gift.”
— Kenji Yoshino, author of Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial and Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law
☞ A guide to social change through personal transformation, this first book by Harvard[-trained] social psychologist Chugh aims to provide the knowledge and tools needed to confront both individual and systemic biases that create and perpetuate inequity. Mixing social science research, stories of acquaintances’ experiences and breakthroughs, and explicit advice, Chugh discusses developing a growth mind-set, recognizing and leveraging “ordinary privilege” (identities such as whiteness, straightness, physical ability, and financial stability that are normative in the dominant culture), becoming aware of power imbalances and their roots, and moving from “believer” to “builder” through active engagement with people and systems. Chugh’s warm tone, foregrounded humility, and encouraging style facilitate but don’t minimize the work. Her frequent use of binaries clarifies complicated concepts: strategies of heat (confrontation) and light (dialog); societal factors that serve as headwinds (disadvantages) and tailwinds (advantages); and centrally, the transformation from believer (passive and perhaps unwoke) to builder (active and self-aware), which is a journey rather than an event. VERDICT A timely, high-level book that will benefit and appeal to those who want to use their privilege to work toward equity and justice.
— Janet Ingraham Dwyer, State Library of Ohio, Columbus
Library Journal (July 2018)
☞ Chugh, author and award-winning social psychologist at the New York University Stern School of Business, takes readers on a journey of self-discovery in bias awareness, targeting open-minded readers who understand that bias exists and are willing to take steps to address it. From Chugh’s extensive research come stories that illustrate common bias situations, and she provides analysis to help understand the scenario from other viewpoints. She then encourages "believers" to become "builders" by activating a growth mindset, seeing ordinary privilege, and being aware of and engaging others. During this process, she suggests that people strive not to be good but to be good-ish and continuing to grow. Readers examine their “ordinary privilege”—the part of identity that one takes for granted, such as gender, race, and education level. Chugh encourages self-reflection to recognize blind spots in thinking patterns, identifies tools for influencing change, and details how to take this new skillset to the next level while engaging with others at home, work, and other areas of life. This book will be of interest to students, sociologists, and those in the workforce.
— Jennifer Adams
Booklist (July 2018)