November 05, 2021

TribePod: This is why the CEO should not be the CDO

This podcast is the second in a series of "Ask Me Anything" podcast events featuring Greg Fontus and a special guest.Today Greg is speaking with Chief Diversity Officer - Dr. Theresa R. Horne, CPTM, CSM, SHRM-SCP. Topics discussed in this episode include the following:

  • Why is the DEI industry booming right now?
  • When it comes to DEI, what is the appropriate amount of investment  for your company? Should there be a Chief Diversity Officer in your company?
  • This is why the CEO should not be be the CDO.
  • How much staff should a CDO have?
  • What do you do when the CEO does not seem to care about DEI?
  • Chief People and Diversity Officer vs Chief Diversity Officer. Which is better?
  • What are some examples of resistance to DEI and ways to confront them?
  • How to gather data for strategic DEI initiatives
  • What are some core elements that should be the foundation of any DEI program?
  • Advice for DEI advocates who want to work in the industry

Diversity Statement Examples


Dr. Theresa R. Horne, CPTM, CSM, SHRM-SCP

Dr. Horne is an experienced senior advisor in DEIA, Human Capital, Training and Development who develops and aligns complex programs and business initiatives for the federal and private companies. She has a 15+ year history of contributions to the government, military and private industries in operations, diversity and inclusion, human capital and adult learning. Dr. Horne has researched and developed comprehensive leadership development, culture action planning and career development programs impacting leaders on a global scale. She is an award-winning novelist, industry columnist and government leader that has spoken at multiple federal agencies, private organizations on the intersection of culture, leadership and strategic alignment. She owns Dynamic Training Partners as a minority, veteran and woman-owned organization. She is a proud Army veteran and enjoys reading, traveling and coaching youth sports.

Connect with Dr. Horne online:


Affiliated Websites:


The Business of Learning, Episode 29: How Training Professionals Can Help Organizations Eliminate Racism


Greg Fontus has over 10 years’ worth of knowledge and experience challenging and empowering others to be inclusively excellent. As a sought-after diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategist, trainer, thought leader, and motivator he has made it a mission to inspire and impact others to be positive agents of social change in order to create environments where all people matter and belong regardless of identity.

Greg holds graduate degrees from the University of South Florida in Curriculum Instruction and from Vanderbilt University in Divinity. He also holds DEI certifications as a Cook Ross Unconscious Bias Trainer, a Green Dots Bystander Intervention Trainer, and a National Coalition Building Institute Trainer.

As someone dedicated to the work of inclusion, equity, justice, and advocacy, Greg has accepted as his personal call to action the words of civil rights leader Rev. James Lawson who stated: “We are citizens of a country that does not yet exist. It is our duty to usher that country into existence.”

Connect with Greg on LinkedIn






Greg Fontus (1s):
Hello, Greg Fontus here, Lead Consultant of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Proactive Talent. Welcome to the second in a series of Ask Me Anything events with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Today, I share the mic with Dr. Theresa Horne and it begins right after this special message.

Jim Stroud (27s):
Proactive Talent is the leading power partner to your recruiting engine. We're a coalition of recruiting and talent brand practitioners who provide the necessary tools and talent to tighten your hiring gaps. Most of your retention rates and embolden your company mission, giving you the competitive edge needed in the ever changing recruiting industry. With a holistic approach, we work alongside clients to help them build a powerful recruiting engine that enables them to efficiently attract, recruit, and retain top talent. We specialize in adding power to your full candidate journey from talent attraction to hiring, to retention.

Jim Stroud (1m 12s):
Our clients includes enterprise companies like Uber-Postmates, Siemens Energy, Boston Consulting Group, Basic American Foods and GoDaddy, as well as fast growing startups like Calendly, Discord and Gong. Please reach out to us today. We would love to have a conversation. You may contact us at That's

Greg Fontus (1m 46s):
Hello everyone. Welcome to another edition of our Ask Me Anything DEI podcasts. I'm Greg Fontus, Lead Consultant for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as well as overseeing our retention services here at Proactive Talent. I have a colleague friend of mine that I am super excited to engage with on today. Dr. Theresa Horne. Teresa, what's going on?

Dr. Theresa Horne (2m 6s):
Hey, thanks for having me on the show today. I'm so excited.

Greg Fontus (2m 12s):
Glad to have you here. Glad to have you here. Listen for everyone that's out there, could you just share a little bit about who you are, a little bit about what you do so that the people can get a little bit of a taste of who you are?

Dr. Theresa Horne (2m 23s):
Yeah, absolutely. So my name is Dr. Theresa Horne. I am a Chief Diversity Officer, as well as the Chief Consulting Officer for Dynamic Training Partners. And so what Dynamic Training Partners is all about is the intersection of diversity, equity and inclusion with learning and development and human resources. And so if you know anything about diversity, equity and inclusion, then you know that we are sort of the, the piece of the pie that brings everyone together, right? And so I think that's the mode that we work within for organizations is to make sure that they're utilizing all of their resources to provide a diverse and equitable workforce.

Greg Fontus (3m 7s):
Awesome. Awesome. She is incredible. Love the work that you and DTP are doing. Love what you have going on. I'm excited to have you here and just to dive into our topics on today. So listen, so listen, Dr. Horne, why now? Why D-- why is DEI the of topic of the conversation? You and I we've been plugged into this work for some years and decades now, and we know that DEI is on fire right now, whether that's a good or bad thing. It's on fire right now, but why now? Why is it the major topic of conversation? Why is it that business is booming for many of us? Like, why now? Why are we on this topic right now?

Dr. Theresa Horne (3m 48s):
We're in this perfect powder keg of things happening in society, things happening politically and things happening individually, right? So this is probably one time in history that we have all of these things occurring. So we have, you know, social justice movements that occurred in the past year to two years that have been ramping up over time. Right? So people have been feeling that angst. And as you know, what happens in your personal life, it does affect you when it comes into the workforce with you. And so that's one piece of the pie. There's one thing that's sort of bubbling and has been bubbling for a while. And then you think about COVID-19, right, and the pandemic that shifted everybody's way of working, way of thinking, way of interacting with each other, the way we do business, right?

Dr. Theresa Horne (4m 37s):
So you add that on to social justice movements, pandemic, and then you were in a political hotbed, right? So this, I think was probably one of the most engaged political moments that sort of shifted the way people were thinking about hope and togetherness to this really divisive, not trusting sort of atmosphere, right, which also had been brewing for many years. And so I think all of those is this perfect powder keg of emotion that is now hitting the workforce in a new way. We're working differently.

Dr. Theresa Horne (5m 18s):
We're now in hybrid or remote work. We don't know how to communicate with people. And then you take the things that are happening in society and pepper those in, and you now have a need for a DnI person coming in.

Greg Fontus (5m 33s):
Yeah, no, no. That's heavy. That's thank you for that. That was awesome. That was awesome. And as I'm just sitting here reflecting, right. This powder keg, as you framed it, so eloquently of social justice, COVID-19, the political climate, that's heavy, right? That's not a light powder keg that [crosstalk] around. It's heavy. It comes with a lot of stress, a lot of impact on our mental health, a lot of discouragement, right? Because to be honest, we've not been letting this powder keg around just recently. It has been dragged around for some time. And so with that being said, what is the motivation then that you have to actually be involved in advocating for change.

Greg Fontus (6m 22s):
You're CDO, you're a Consulting Officer, like how do you then have that motivation when you look at this keg and say, it's been here for awhile, it's heavy. How do you-- what motivates you to be involved in advocating for change for the one [crosstalk] you're part of?

Dr. Theresa Horne (6m 34s):
That's a great question, because you know, what I've seen shift in the past year or two has been, we've seen this powder kick, right. But like I said before, these things have been occurring for a long time. And there have been people who have been on the ground level doing this work without the accolades and the acknowledgement, and without the title. And so there are a lot of people who have been passionate about this kind of work for many, many years and have been trying to have change. And so I think, you know, having this sort of idea that it is now that we are interested in making change is sort of, you know, where we want to get away from, right?

Dr. Theresa Horne (7m 16s):
Because this has been work that has been done for many years, except there wasn't a name to it. You know, when you look at organizations, they didn't have a Chief Diversity Officer. If you just go back three years and poll, how many organizations had an actual funded, properly funded, Chief Diversity Officer, you wouldn't find many. People didn't even know what that title was. And now you see this, you know, 70% growth in these areas within these organizations and it's new to them, but not new to the work that's being done, it's just a new name on it. So as far as I'm concerned, I've been doing this work for many, many years, I've been passionate about it.

Dr. Theresa Horne (8m 2s):
I've been doing it in various different methods, whether I'm aligning with learning and development or aligning with human resources or aligning with human capital and how we hire and move people through the employee life cycle. That has always been there. It's just in this powder keg, now it's a hot topic. Now there's funding, now there's investment. And so that's the difference.

Greg Fontus (8m 28s):
Okay. No, I love it. I love it. So speaking of investment [unintelligible].

Dr. Theresa Horne (8m 34s):
It's called the money.

Greg Fontus (8m 36s):
Let's talk about that a little bit, about the investment of people to do the work within organizations. There's a lot of different conversations that are happening. I actually saw on LinkedIn that you-- I we're, kind of engaging with your particular post that was mentioned, we're going to leave the person and organization nameless. But in that post, essentially there was this person talking about how the CEO of an organization should also be the CDO. The Chief Diversity Officer of an organization. Can you speak to that, as far as investment, right. And speak too, a little bit about what do you think is the appropriate investment as far as people? Should it be where the CEO is the Chief Diversity Officer?

Greg Fontus (9m 23s):
Should there be a sole-titled Chief Diversity Officer, or should there be, instead of that individual spread throughout the organization to actually facilitate DEI from directors, program managers, business partners, et cetera, et cetera.

Dr. Theresa Horne (9m 39s):
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I will say just, you know, I'll cut to the chase on this. Your Chief Diversity Officer needs to be at the VP level, direct to your leadership staff. So whether that is a board, whether that is a CEO, they are equal to, in voice, to those leaders. And it's important for that to really be in place and that they are not stuck under HR. They're not stuck under the Chief People Officer because there is the type of work that a CDO does is that, we are in the business of shaking trees. And so when people get their trees shook, right, they are not happy.

Dr. Theresa Horne (10m 24s):
So we're not always the most liked, right? Because we're finding gaps. We're telling people where they need to do business differently. We're telling people about harsh realities and truths that are happening within their organization. And so you have to have a bit of power and influence in order to do that type of work. And if you put that under one of the main areas, human resources, that we will be pointing out gaps and issues along the employee life cycle that can become buried. Now you have a biased leader that has all of the power to not allow information to get to your CEO.

Dr. Theresa Horne (11m 4s):
So I say that, now we'll talk about why the CEO should not be the CDO, right? So the CEO is making all types of decisions about the business, right? So they're listening to the HR, the CHCO, right? The Chief Human Capital Officer, they're listening to them about hiring and where they need to be in the next five years. Right? They're not making those decisions. They're not going down and saying, Hey, I'm going to put out a job posting for this. They have a trusted advisor. And so with diversity and inclusion, you have to have a trusted advisor, not be the person, right?

Dr. Theresa Horne (11m 45s):
And so they are a part of that chief executive panel of advisors to that CEO. And it builds that value, it builds that investment into actually creating change. So let's talk about the HR business partners and sprinkling them out or diversity business partners and sprinkling them throughout the organization, I think that's a great idea as long as you have that Chief Diversity Officer, that nucleus that has a strategic way about creating change at your organization, right? You have to fund them, right. Pay them appropriately. If you are thinking to pay your Chief Diversity Officer, not in the six figures, then I think you should revisit what you are doing with your life.

Dr. Theresa Horne (12m 35s):
Okay. You will be probably laughed out of many interviews if you were interviewing for a Chief Diversity Officer and not speaking to them and valuing the work that they do. So I'll just put that out there. But when we talk through, you know, how it's laid out throughout an organization, that CDO needs staff, right? And so, in my opinion, depending upon how big your organization is, will sort of determine how much staff that person needs, okay?

Greg Fontus (13m 12s):
No, I love that. I love that. You over here preaching. Let's [unintelligible]. You get in the nail on the head and I love the fact that as you spoke to these things, you spoke a little bit to some of the barriers that prevents us from an organization from being able to operate in that inclusivity, right. You spoke to, and I want to highlight those things for our listeners because it's very important that we understand those things. Because oftentimes we say that some of the barriers to diversity equity and inclusion is, you know, the CEO doesn't care about it, or we don't have, you know, structures in place and those types of things well.

Greg Fontus (13m 54s):
Well you brought up some, a little bit more nuanced barriers, I think, right? You talked about the lack of communication to your C-suite. And so when you don't have that person on that VP level, that person who's right, that trusted advisor for the CEO, there's not communication going in. And sometimes, and although we are in 2021, although it is a new age and diversity, equity, and inclusion is talked about everywhere you go, the reality is many people don't really know what they're doing. And so when you don't have that trusted advisor, there's not a consistent communication flow into the C-suite. There's not a voice at the table to kind of talk about what are some of the challenges going on within the organization.

Greg Fontus (14m 39s):
And so --

Dr. Theresa Horne (14m 40s):
Let me piggyback on that too, because I've seen some job postings that are now aligning it with HR, where they're saying you're the Chief People and Diversity Officer, right? And I think that's doing a disservice to that person who takes that role, because for anyone who has sat in a Chief People Officer role and understand the full scope of those duties and that, that is a full time job, right? To look at talent acquisition and sourcing and onboarding and the life cycle. And then you turn around and give them another hat to say, you are also over Diversity, which is in its own right, a full scope plan around how your organization reacts to things.

Dr. Theresa Horne (15m 24s):
It is internal and external when you're doing it appropriately, right? It's your imagery, your branding. Are you putting out the right image to bring the right people in, right? Are you talking about the right things in order to attract the individuals that you want? And so while those are, you know, it's great that they're trying to think, to say, okay, let's put it together. Those should be separate and focused areas so that you create change in both. Right?

Greg Fontus (16m 1s):
I agree. I agree with that. I agree with that. And one of the things I've also seen is if the Chief People Officer and the Chief Diversity Officer are not, you know, the same position, they've separated those roles and the Chief Diversity Officer, or the Diversity and Inclusion Lead, their staff is actually the people officer staff, and business partner. And so the stress then comes on those individuals to now do double duty. So I'm both recruiting and I'm doing DEI programming, I'm, you know, sourcing and I'm also going out there trying to do trainings and education.

Dr. Theresa Horne (16m 43s):
And where's the accountability, right? Where's the accountability? If I am the person that is putting out the, a job announcement, and then it's also my job to check, to make sure that my wording is inclusive, right? Where's the accountability? Who's the person that's going to come in and say, Hey, that job announcement, you said these things in it, which could make people in this community not apply. You're thinking, you know, that this person should be checking themselves. And in history, we know that that does not work well. Right. When we say self-accountability right, there's a reason that there is oversight. There's a reason that there is supervisors, right.

Dr. Theresa Horne (17m 24s):
Because people do not hold themselves accountable.

Greg Fontus (17m 28s):
Absolutely. Absolutely. So then going back to the barriers, right. You know, the lack of communication, you have staffing issues, right, that serve as barriers. And then I would also say a third bucket would be finances, right? As we talk about investment or financial investment is a major thing. That's why you see there are hybrid roles. That's why we've seen diversity-- there's always, it's funny. Most diversity leaders are typically individual contributors. They don't have a staff or it's in the plan, maybe in three, five years and all those things. But by that time, the person has left.

Dr. Theresa Horne (18m 4s):
He's gone, right?

Greg Fontus (18m 7s):
But you know, so staffing is an issue. And often times, you know, they'll say it's be due to finances, right. We don't necessarily have the funds to do that. Wherever their organization--.

Dr. Theresa Horne (18m 19s):
Yeah. Where you put your money, your people, and your time is what you care about. Where you put your money, your people, and your time is what an organization cares about.

Greg Fontus (18m 31s):
Say it one more time for the person [crosstalk].

Dr. Theresa Horne (18m 33s):
All right. You all heard it in the back.

Greg Fontus (18m 39s):
And that's so true. That's so true because, and the thing is too, I don't think that many organizations understand the implications of not doing that well of not putting your money in your finances. Yeah. I think if there is an appropriate case study to see, think about what could happen, if you don't put those resources in, no shade to any person working a part of this organization, but just look at what just happened to Tesla recently. They just have to pay out $137 million because of racial issues that was going on in their organization. Now, I don't know about how your pocket book rose, my pocket book doesn't have 137 million [unintelligible] for not doing this well.

Greg Fontus (19m 31s):
And I tell that to say that if we're not putting that financial investment on the forefront on the back end, it can really damage an organization. Tesla's fortunate enough to be doing well to where they could afford that. But, you know, fortunately, or unfortunately. But there's many other organizations that cannot afford that. [crosstalk] of that we not allow finances to be the barrier, but actually allow finances to be the up lifter of us being able to do the work well.

Dr. Theresa Horne (19m 55s):
Yeah. And we really have to look at it from the, not from the punishment lens, right. But from the WIIFM, right. What's in it for me to do this? And you know, there's a lot of studies that are out right now that have said that more diverse stats and more diverse leadership in particular have actually raised the bar in greater returns to shareholders. I believe there was one by Fast Company that said, you know, with higher representation of women in the C-suite, they saw 34% greater returns for their shareholders. So there is money there in the WIIF, right. And so if you are an organization where you're working within an organization that does not have a diversity staff that is funded and invest in, this is something that, you know, you can use it from this lens, not so much the litigation lens, but more so, you know, how do we push the company forward?

Dr. Theresa Horne (20m 53s):
How do we make more money and increase our revenue, right. How do we, if you're on the stock market, right. Then how do we increase our stakeholder return? These are the things that diversity, equity and inclusion can also impact, but we have to make that business case for it.

Greg Fontus (21m 11s):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It's this old adage of you got to spend money, to make money. Right. And I think that when we are putting diversity and inclusion at the forefront, it's going to have a greater return on our investment, I believe in that wholeheartedly.

Dr. Theresa Horne (21m 27s):

Greg Fontus (21m 28s):
So with all that being said, right. I mean, we talked a little bit about some of the barriers about, you know, implementing DEI. What would you say in your experience has been some of the bigger resistance to DEI and how have you, your teams that you've worked alongside, how have you been able to respond? Because every organization isn't fortunate enough to have a full on team, a global diversity team with business partners, managers, and the whole nine, as it relates to resources, as far as personnel, but the other organizations where, you know, all they may have is a DEI council or an ambassadors group.

Greg Fontus (22m 10s):
And it's a group of employees all across the organization, they're coming together and they're trying to put the bug in the ear to move forward with DEI. What are some of those resistance? What are some of the ways you feel they experience?

Dr. Theresa Horne (22m 23s):
Yeah, there's a ton of resistance in this space, right. For multiple different reasons, right. And I think that, you know, like we just spoke about just a second ago with investing the funding, right. That's going to be one of the resistance areas, always, and that stems into infrastructure. And so if we don't have the data to back it, right. If we're not actually gathering people data, the people analytics to say, who is at our organization, right. Have they self identified? Are we asking the right questions?

Dr. Theresa Horne (23m 3s):
Many of us are still using the male-female button, right. Or do not prefer to say, and we're not asking if people are non-binary right. Or trans or anything else other than that. Right. So we're still not sort of having the data to even say that we have a problem, which then means leaderships think that they don't have a problem. And so that's one of those areas of resistance is, if you don't have the data to back it, leadership is going to resist it because there's nothing to say that there's a problem. So that's number one, number two, when you're talking about DnI councils, right.

Dr. Theresa Horne (23m 44s):
Which I think are formidable, they're great to have, but I'll tell you, 90% of the time, these groups are not funded and this is a, not a secondary, but a tertiary duty, right? So they're only given 10% of their time to DnI. And then you add on top of that, that they are not experts in the field. So they don't know what they're looking for. They're all led by passion, right? And this is not a passion project. This is filled with data, data analytics, and strategic planning and relationships and partnerships that have to be built in order to change the organizational culture over a certain amount of time, right?

Dr. Theresa Horne (24m 29s):
Because this isn't an overnight thing. We're not in a sprint, we're in a marathon in this type of work. And so again, a DnI counsel is great, especially if you have it from the leadership perspective, as well as the employee perspective, so that you're able to hear from those groups, their needs and the barriers and issues that they have. Do. I think that that's all that an organization should have is a sounding board? Absolutely not. You have to have that person, that's willing to dig into the data. That's willing to shake the trees. That's willing to be the bad guy sometimes and ask for the money, right.

Dr. Theresa Horne (25m 12s):
And that's the person that you need in order to move the needle for DNI at your organization.

Greg Fontus (25m 17s):
Love that. Love that. So, you know, earlier this week, as a matter of fact, I was in a conversation with a colleague of mine who leads diversity, they're global head of diversity in their organization. And, you know, they were talking about some of their challenges as far as resistance. And so, you know, I want to preface this question of thinking outside of just the U S context of diversity, right? Let's take ourselves into a global DEI context. And so with their organization, some of the resistance that, you know, they were facing is that some of the other countries that are part of their organization, they have some of these data privacy laws.

Greg Fontus (25m 59s):
And so they're not able to actually get some of those data in order to inform their DEI plan. What is your take on navigating that type of resistance? That is a different breed, you know, what is your take?

Dr. Theresa Horne (26m 8s):
Yeah, absolutely. Oh yeah. Absolutely. In, in a global environment, you have, you know, multiple different barriers, right. But there are ways to get around those particular laws and that comes from self identification. Right. And self-disclosure now there's a difference between us asking it and it having to be filled out in an application versus us having a focus group or employee resource groups, right. Where we are able to gather data, soft data in that way, right. And so I think it's really about being agile and how you look at the barriers that you have in particular locations.

Greg Fontus (26m 54s):
Love that. Love that. I, yeah. I'm with you on that. And I think that's important, right. You know, for us to, you know, from a global diversity context, you know, not just leveraging everything solely on the numbers, right. Having to have engaged person to person engagement, focus groups, site visits, all of those types of things I think are important because it helps to shape the full context of what we're talking about.

Dr. Theresa Horne (27m 20s):
Absolutely. And you feel different. I think people feel different when you care about them. You know, we can say, we care about someone by looking at the, the people analytics and then saying, this is what you need, but they don't feel us, right. Even though we're working in the background to try and make differences for them in the workplace, they don't feel that, right. They feel it when you come out and you talk to them, right. And ask them how it's going, right. And then ask them what changes are needed and allow them to buy into the, to the program by being a part of it, right. And so it's not necessarily, did you check the box and so that you could tell me how many women we have at the organization, right?

Dr. Theresa Horne (28m 6s):
It's more about, if I have a women's resource group, I can hear from the women in my organization and they'll tell me, "Hey, we need more professional developments we can move into leadership" or "no one was--", you know, "no one has been promoted that it's been a woman in this particular field." Right? So these are things that guide diversity, equity and inclusion work, but the people analytics is just the supporting piece of the pie. It's not the entire pie.

Greg Fontus (28m 39s):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And once you, speaking of connecting with the different resources, being on the ground level, having the conversations, seeing the physical aesthetics of a place, right. All of those things that sounds to me like inclusion.

Dr. Theresa Horne (28m 56s):
Exactly. In action.

Greg Fontus (28m 59s):
Inclusion in action, right? We fear those feelings, those emotions being down to get those things that the data and numbers don't show, it's really that inclusive piece of things, which is important. And so I love that. I love that.

Dr. Theresa Horne (29m 15s):
Yeah. One of the things that I did see at an organization is, you know, we had gone in to help with this particular organization and they were saying, you know, "Hey," you know, "we've done all of these things. We have a list of all of these diversity efforts, these inclusion efforts," you know, "we listened to our employee engagement survey and we instituted all of these things and people are still saying, they're not happy." Right? And I'm like, okay, well, there's clearly a disconnect because if you did everything that was asked of you, right? Then it should, your score should raise. And so after doing focus groups and interviews, you know, what was realized was that there wasn't a communication strategy.

Dr. Theresa Horne (30m 2s):
So they didn't know that those things had been instituted. The majority of people didn't know. They knew that they had said it, that it was a need, but they didn't know that it was actually instituted and something that they could partake in, right. And so another key thing to think about in terms of resistance is, is it real resistance or have you not done your due diligence to say what you have accomplished and what you have put in place, right. And so that's the key thing to really think about is, do you have the right things in place? And if you do, did you let people know you got it?

Greg Fontus (30m 43s):
That's good. That's good. That's good. And that's so real, right? Because we think, you know, or at least in my experience, I've worked with different clients and their thing is, well, we need to have this whole new program and we need X, Y, and Z. And we have many types of challenges and it's actually, no, you actually have the [crosstalk]. You're just not looking through it through the right lens. Let's tweak the lens, let's add this person to the conversation, and that changes the whole dynamic of your organization.

Dr. Theresa Horne (31m 15s):
Absolutely. And it saves you money and time.

Greg Fontus (31m 18s):
Money and time. That is true. So, with that being said, right. What in your opinion should be some of the foundational core elements in a DEI plan. Don't want to give you all-- I don't want to give you all the goods and all.

Dr. Theresa Horne (31m 38s):
Yeah. Right. Greg, you trying to have me give stuff away for free.

Greg Fontus (31m 43s):
We're not gonna do all of that. In and ideal world, right. Theoretically, let's umbrella term it. What are some core elements that, you know, when you look at organization to organization that, Hey, you can tell that they're not in the performative stages of doing this work. They're actually serious about it because they have X, Y, and Z, what are those X, Y, and Z things?

Dr. Theresa Horne (32m 6s):
So the first step for me, you know, is to have a culture assessment, right? That's if you don't have that, that's ground level, you have to know where you are right now. And so you have to have that first culture assessment to say, where is our organization, right? Where are the gaps? How do people feel? You know, what are the needs? And so that gives you that baseline because it's not an end of the world, 9 times out of 10, it's not going to be the end of the world, DEI type of plan, right. Where you're like, oh my God, everything's messed up. You're going to have some really high points.

Dr. Theresa Horne (32m 46s):
Whether you say we're doing great in veteran hiring. We have, you know, 60% veterans that are hired last year, you know? And so we're doing great in that. Don't have to do anything much but sustain, right. But we're seeing that we don't have women in leadership, right? There's an issue there. So that's a gap that we could focus on. And in our next, you know, calendar year or fiscal year. And so the assessment allows you to gauge where the gaps are. And then you can sit down and have a discussion with all of your key players. This is when you bring in your Chief Officers to come and sit down and say, "Hey, this is what the assessment is telling us.", right?

Dr. Theresa Horne (33m 28s):
And these pieces aligned to the things that you guys are doing, right? So that may be human resources, that may be your Chief Information Officer that you may come and say, "Hey, we need some new technology", right? We don't have a way to gauge whether people are moving through the employee life cycle correctly. Right. And it's same thing with HR. HR can back that up and say, you know what? All we have is the data, but we don't have a platform to show it in a compelling way. Right? And so I would say that the assessment is going to be your first key thing to annotate. Whether you're taking the steps to really see where your organization is, or if you're just doing check the box items to say, I did something in DnI this year, right.

Dr. Theresa Horne (34m 19s):
That assessment is going to give you that core focus. The next thing is to always have a strategic plan. And that strategic plan should be linked to your organization's strategic plan. So where that organization wants to go in the next five years should be tied to everything within it. It's an umbrella. And so when you do your DnI strategic plan, how do I help the organization get to where they said they wanted to go in five years, right? From my lens, from the DNI lens, me knowing that again, high representation of women in the C-suite gains greater returns, right? So in my mind, I'm thinking, Hey, we want to do XYZ in five years, we need to get women into leadership, right?

Dr. Theresa Horne (35m 5s):
We need to increase our diversity in these key critical roles, right? Women in STEM, the disabled in STEM, right? So these are all things that fall within the purview of diversity, equity, and inclusion that still aligns to the organization's larger goals. And so those are the two things that I will give you and I will stop there before I talk myself out of a job.

Greg Fontus (35m 33s):
No, those are great. Those are good. Those are great. I love it. So listen, we're almost at our time. I have one more question, I want to just ask you at this time. And so one thing that we noticed is that there's a lot of organizations that don't have the structures that, you know, we're accustomed to. They may not have the Chief Diversity Officer or the resources of personnel, or what have you. But they have individuals who are passionate about it. Individuals that want to be DEI advocates. What advice do you have for those individuals? Because I know they're listening right now. What advice do you have for those who want to be DnI advocates, but they're, they aren't sure of how to start.

Greg Fontus (36m 16s):
What advice do you have for them?

Dr. Theresa Horne (36m 17s):
Yeah. And like I said earlier, it's so much more than a passion project. And so, you know, I would tell them first to make sure that this is the work that they want to do, right? And the way that you do that is that one thing that you're passionate about, right? So whether that is, we all have our own stories as to how we fell into this type of work, right? But you have to realize that it's going to be bigger than your story, right? So you have to care about LGBTQ+, even if you are not a part of that community or your religious beliefs are different, right? You still have to support it. The same thing with, you know, different hate groups that are out there, right?

Dr. Theresa Horne (37m 4s):
So you're looking at it from the lens of, you know, even though it doesn't impact me personally, is this the work that I want to do to go up against hate groups, to do things that may be against my religion, to do things that may be against my own personal beliefs, right? And if you say yes to that, then you're ready for this kind of work, right? Because you're going to go up against people who are part of hate groups. You're going to go up against people who will try to argue you down, that there is no racism in America, right? There's going to be people who will try to tell you that you're not a part of their group. And therefore you cannot speak, you know, for them or be an ally for them, that's going to happen.

Dr. Theresa Horne (37m 49s):
And so you have to be strong enough in this type of work to realize that it's not a passion project, because your passion could be in one area, it could be for black females, right? Because something may have happened with you. But you have to care about everyone along that spectrum. So that's the first step, is to make sure it's the work that you really want to do. The second step is to get a champion, someone who is in the business now to teach you the things that they know, okay. Now I do believe in education, you know, I have a doctorate, so I thoroughly believe in education. But in this particular space, you'll learn more by people who've been doing it for multiple years than you would by sitting in a class and say, you know, Cornell University or something, right?

Dr. Theresa Horne (38m 38s):
You'll get something out of it but the reality of the work from people who have been doing it, we'll let you see all the ins and outs that that book knowledge is not going to show you.

Greg Fontus (38m 51s):
Truth. True.

Dr. Theresa Horne (38m 51s):
So those are, that's what I would say, get a champion, make sure it's the work that you want to do, right. And then get involved at your organization. So get involved with those DnI councils. Don't wait for someone else to do it. If you don't have a DNI council or an employee resource group, get to starting it. And that's your first step into the business.

Greg Fontus (39m 12s):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's, it's-- this work is not for the faint of heart.

Dr. Theresa Horne (39m 19s):
It is not.

Greg Fontus (39m 20s):
It's not for the faint of heart, indeed. It's truly a self-sacrificing work to do the work of DEI well. You mentioned, it may even go against your own personal beliefs, but it's not about you.

Dr. Theresa Horne (39m 30s):
It's not about you.

Greg Fontus (39m 31s):
It's all about making sure everyone feels accepted as well as belong at an organization. Listen, Dr. Horne. Thank you. Thank you so much just for your presence, your wisdom, your insight. It was invaluable during this time. Listen, final question for you. How can people get in contact with you?

Dr. Theresa Horne (39m 50s):
Alright. That's the easiest question you've given me today. So you guys can all find me on LinkedIn, under Dr. Theresa Horne. You can also check me out on, or you can find me on any other platform under authortrhorne, as well as look at some of my books on

Greg Fontus (40m 17s):
Awesome. Make sure you all reach out to her, make sure you reach out to her just to say, at least to say thank you on a phenomenal [inaudible] episode. Listen, thank you all for joining us and tuning in to our, Ask Me Anything Podcast. I am your host, Greg Fontus. I look forward to catching you next time. Until then, take care.

Dr. Theresa Horne (40m 49s):

Greg Fontus (40m 50s):
Thank you for listening. If you have not already, please take advantage of the resources cited in the podcast description. They are there to benefit you. Until next time, goodbye.




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