Dionne Wright Poulton

Biases Can Affect Your Career Success
July 27 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Remaining Objective

When I first met one of my co-workers, I immediately didn’t like her, for whatever reason. Fast-forward a few months and, to my surprise, she turned out to become one of my best friends. It’s all too common we fall into the trap of first impressions. I have a challenge for you: Whether in the workplace or on an online dating app, ignore a person’s looks. Instead, spend 10 minutes focusing on getting to know him. Have a one-on-one conversation more than once before making up your mind. That way, if it turns out you really can’t stand the dude, your opinion’s grounded in a little research.


If you say you aren’t biased about something, girl, you’re lying to yourself. It’s tough to admit, but scientists and psychologists say human bias stems from the brain’s evolution, that it has to do with determining quickly whether someone is our friend or foe. They say more than 150 types of cognitive bias exist, from being attracted to ideas that reinforce our own to discarding specific information to form generalizations. Experts say turning off your internal biases starts with admitting there’s room for improvement in our assessments of others.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Dionne Wright Poulton, Owner of Poulton Consulting Group

Dionne Wright Poulton knows all about the psychology behind our decision-making and how our biases can affect our career success. As the owner and brains behind Poulton Consulting Group, Dionne has a wealth of wisdom to help companies conduct productive dialogues about the tough subjects, from race to gender.

An educator, author, diversity and inclusion consultant, and conflict mediator with decades of experience, Dionne is an expert at addressing and mitigating biases in the workplace. Here’s how she uses her know-how to help businesses succeed. With Dionne’s direction, companies can develop policies, programs and tools that help alleviate bias in the workplace, like detailed employee handbooks, specific course curriculum, fine-tuned conflict-mediation solutions and even immediate crisis-response fixes.

Dionne has helped establish welcoming work cultures for clients around the world, many who can’t say enough great things about her. One client praises Dionne’s approachable style of educating and effecting change in company culture through a combination of posing critical questions and actively listening.

With a Ph.D. in adult education from the University of Georgia, this diversity whiz is making her mark as a clear-cut advisor on the tough stuff in life, sharing her expertise as a speaker at workshops throughout the world, from Bermuda to Paris to Canada. She also shares her mastery on the airwaves though her beloved podcast, the Dr. Dionne Show, on which she discusses “diversity conversations that matter.”

You don’t have to go further than your bookshelf to learn from this top expert. Dionne’s insightful book, It’s Not Always Racist…But Sometimes It Is, offers new perspective about how to address a centuries-old issue. Rather than avoiding racial biases, both personal and systematic, Dionne pushes readers to hit the topic head-on, advocating for ongoing, open, honest and respectful dialogue.

Do you want to address biases in your workplace? Dionne has plenty of tools to help, but one of my favorites involves the acronym DIALOGUE: Don’t interrupt or argue, listen, offer grace, understanding and empathy.

Talking to people, especially those you work with, who have a dissenting opinion from your own can be terrifying. Here are some tips Dionne suggests: Focus on facts rather than personal attacks. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. And separate your beliefs from your self-worth. Take Dionne’s guidance and start the conversation.

Today's Woman to Watch shares with us how to C.H.E.C.K., where she explains what we should do when meeting people for the first time and when interacting with different people in public. Learn more by clicking the link here, or if you're tuning in via podcast, head over to OnTheDotWoman.com!


Let’s close out with a quote from a woman who was never afraid to talk about the hard stuff, the incomparable Maya Angelou:

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity, there is beauty and there is strength.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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