Creating a strategic and disciplined approach to DEI, with Deanna Singh

Deanna Singh has been researching, designing and building solutions to complex social challenges for the last 20 years, but she was born into diversity, equity and inclusion work. As founder of Flying Elephant, a holding company for social impact companies, Deanna is on a mission to build innovative opportunities for underserved communities.

In this episode, hear how DEI has impacted her life, how she continues to learn and lead and how she found her purpose.


Donald Thompson: Welcome to the Donald Thompson Podcast. I’m really encouraged today about our guest.  Deanna Singh is a lawyer, an entrepreneur, a mom, a business leader, a keynote speaker. We’re going to have the opportunity today to unpack a lot of different things. But the highlight is we’re going to talk about how do you get it right with your diversity, equity, inclusion programming. Deanna, welcome to the show. 

Deanna Singh: Thank you so much. It’s such an honor to be here with you.

Donald Thompson: So, one of the things that I like to do before we kind of get into the detail of the subject matter is I like our audience to get to know our guests. Take a few minutes to talk about family, where you grew up, brothers and sisters, things that impacted you and then we’ll talk as friends. 

Deanna Singh: Oh, absolutely. So, I actually am broadcasting from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so that is where I spent a majority of my childhood. I am a biracial woman, so my mother is African-American. Her family comes from Magee, Mississippi, and my father’s family comes from Punjab, India. So my dad comes from a very small village in India. And actually one of my, my favorite stories to just share is that my mom and my dad got married after knowing each other for just three months.

And what makes their story even more fascinating is that they did not speak the same language, not have the same religion, grew up in totally different places in the world, had totally different customs, different foods, all of it. And so, this year they’re celebrating 42 years of marriage, which is very exciting.

Right. But you think about, right, east meets west and all the reasons on paper why that wouldn’t work. If you couldn’t speak the same language even, right? Why that would be such a challenge. And so, I think one of the greatest things about my childhood is that I grew up watching them build this amazing bridge to one another, to each other’s culture, to like understanding, and for, for me, like, I got to play on that bridge. I got to run across it, bring other people on it, you know? Jump up and down, test its strength, and in many ways, you know, people ask, you know, “Well, how long have you been doing diversity, equity, inclusion work?” I’m like, “My whole life. I was born into this job.”

What I will share with you that made this even more, I think, impactful for me is that my, my parents decided when I was about five to open up our home to anyone who was looking for a place to stay. And so, until I went to college, I had an average of about 30 people living in a three bedroom ranch with my, my parents and I, and my sisters.

And so, what was amazing about that too, is that sometimes it was family members, and sometimes it’d be for like a day or two, and sometimes just total strangers, and it would be for years. Right? So, it really didn’t, didn’t matter. And in our home, we were taught a couple of really, I mean, lots of really important things, but one of the important things that we were taught is just how important it is to make sure that people can find their way. 

And in order to find their way, they really have to feel like they belong and they have to feel included. So, being able to kind of create that space in our home, and by extension in our larger community, was something that we grew up practicing every single day from the moment we woke up in the morning until  we went to sleep.

And I would say the other thing that was really, like, instrumental in kind of that process, right? In, in growing up in that space was just this idea of how powerful it can be for you to be able to see somebody else, right? To truly, truly see somebody else. And I think that that, that power, right, and that distribution of power has been something that has followed me no matter what sector I was in, no matter what role I was playing, no matter where I was geographically in the world.

I think that really, really followed alongside me. And I’d say the, the last thing was, you know, my, my parents always taught us that you don’t measure your success by how well you’re doing, you measure your success by those that you care about around you. And I think that also just has fundamentally guided the work that I’ve done and the decisions that I’ve made along my professional journey and personal journey.

Donald Thompson: Oh, wow. What a great lead in to our discussion. And I think the thing that strikes me the most about what you just said is the care about those around you. And that lends itself to the responsibilities we have as leaders, right? That our behavior, that our example, right? That our missions are other centers.

And one of the things that is occurring now is a lot of people are talking about that, which is good. One of the questions that I have as we open up is, as people are trying to find their way in corporations as individuals in diversity, equity, inclusion, what are some of the things that people have as roadblocks that you see to actually creating something that’s sustainable? Versus the hype of the moment around DEI?

Deanna Singh: So, I think there’s a couple of, of big challenges that I see. I think one of them is this idea that diversity, equity, inclusion is the same as being kind. Diversity, equity, inclusion is very much a skill set, the same way that we teach financial acumen, that we teach the, you know, legal implications of the work that we do, that we teach all, all the different aspects that make our businesses strong or not strong, right?

Make our biggest businesses weak. It’s the same kind of thing that we need to apply and the same kind of disciplined approach that we need to apply to our diversity, equity, and inclusion work. However, what we end up doing is we end up putting it into the bucket of just philanthropy. Now, mind you, I’m the CEO of three major foundations. I love the philanthropic world. So, I’m not– there is a strong case to be made for why organizations and corporations need to be involved in philanthropic work. And there are some intersections, but that is not where this work sits. It sits really and should sit in strategy.

So, I think that’s one major thing is– two really, we– right? We conflate this idea of kindness and respect with diversity, equity and inclusion, and don’t think of it as its own space and skillset and really, like, thing that we have to develop our acumen in. And we also do not put this in the right space.  I see organizations not putting it in their strategic bucket, rather putting it in a philanthropic bucket or putting it in a– just a development bucket. Wherever they might kind of place it, but not placing it in addition to those places where there are intersections in the strategic bucket. 

Donald Thompson: That is powerful, and you know, the way you articulated it is, is really simple and impactful, right? DEI is a skillset. And just in listening to that, I’m thinking about some of the clients that I work with. Man, that’s going to take some of the pressure off.

We can learn new skills.

Deanna Singh:  Right. 

Donald Thompson: Right? And, and we’re used to learning new skills. And when you think about it in that construct, now all of a sudden people then want to know the building blocks upon which they, which they need to learn.

Deanna Singh: Yeah.

Donald Thompson: So, I really love– love that, that comment. When you think about our responsibilities as leaders in looking into organizations around DEI, one of the things that I’m starting to hear more about is white men in the conversation are feeling like the villain in every dialogue. How do we look at the DEI work and make sure that those that we need to influence in that majority group are part of the solution, but not consistently vilified, where they don’t want to engage. How do you address that? Are you seeing that as well? But that’s something I’m seeing pop off quite a bit.

Deanna Singh: Yeah, absolutely. So, I’ve definitely had a number of clients who have reached out and said that that’s the sentiment within the organization. And I feel like it’s really unfortunate. And I think that a lot of it comes back to the way that diversity, equity, inclusion is being taught. And so, in our company, Iwespend a lot of time making sure that we focus on diversity, equity, inclusion as a skillset, right?

Like, as a space that isn’t about– it’s different than– so the, the analogy we sometimes use is like, this is different than a graduate level class on race and racism in America. That is incredibly important. I took all of those classes, you know, in law school in my graduate programs. I’ve taught, you know,  those classes in, in the social justice space. So like, very, very important.

That is not this. That there is a distinction between what you are doing inside of an organization with a professional development lens versus what you were doing from, like, a critical race or a race history or any, you know, any more academic institution. I think, so I think that’s one challenge. Is I think the way that diversity, equity, and inclusion training and discussions and how they’re being crafted really has a lot of opportunity in it. So I think that’s one. I think the second thing is that a lot of times the conversations as I’ve seen them and as clients have reported back to us, right? 

And it always like makes my stomach turn. Like, why? Why is this happening?  Is that it is spent as a time where it seems like the end result is, can I get somebody to weep? Right? Can I, can I get you to a place where you just feel so beaten up that yeah, that you’re, that, that that’s like the ultimate goal. And, and I don’t, I don’t mean to minimize it, right? Like, there is a lot of angst in this work. There is a lot of guilt in this work, but it seems like some things are just directed at like, building that up.

And I feel like where you have the most value add is where you are actually building people up on what is the forward action. So, we spend a lot of time instead of trying to tear people down, building people up and really helping them see, like, this is how you can be part of the solution. And so I, I think that that’s, and that’s not to sugar coat that there’s a problem.

That’s not to sugar coat that there are some challenges, not to sugar coat coat, you know, the, the implications of what your identity is, whether you’re white man, a white woman,  a cisgender person. Like, no matter what the identity is that might put you into a majority or a position of power, the idea is how do you use that? What does that translate into? And so, I think those are some things that at least we work really hard with our clients and making sure that we’re directing the conversations in that way.

Donald Thompson: No, I think that’s powerful. I would, I would extend that in, in– it’s really a point of agreement. When we talk about privilege, we don’t lead with white privilege. Right? Which turns people away. When I talk about privilege and our, our team in particular, I talk about the fact that I was raised, right, by two parents. Right? Which is a privilege relative to someone that has a single mom or a single dad, et cetera, that’s working two or three jobs.

And they’re the only person that can create love and safety and opportunity for that child. Right? That’s a, that’s a privilege. That, that’s not a function of my ethnicity, right? Or my race and that career–

Deanna Singh: Or your merit. 

Donald Thompson: Or my merit. That’s exactly right. That’s something that– it just is, it’s something I had a benefit. And so, when we talk about it within that context, it allows people to be more relatable. If people are more relatable, then to your point, we can get to what we’re responsible for with our privilege versus the guilt of the privilege that we have. Right?

Deanna Singh: Absolutely. 

Donald Thompson:  And go from there. So, I really appreciate that, that comment. When you’re working with executives that are now building out DEI programming, they’re looking to hire and build a team within their organization, what are some of the things that you encourage them to think about in building out their internal DEI function? Right? Because some people are just hiring a chief diversity officer, check the box, everything’s good, onto the next thing. What are some of the best practices or thought processes that, that you try to help people with.

Deanna Singh: So, I think that building out your diversity, equity, and inclusion team has to have a couple of components to it. I do think that there has to be ownership, whether that’s with a chief diversity officer or, you know, a lone DEI leader, which is a program we do, or, you know, there has to be some place where there is some holding of accountability and somebody who is really always keeping the strategic goals in mind.

So, I do think that that has to be named, you know? I think sometimes organizations struggled. And I think their intentions are good. They, they want everybody to have a piece of the responsibility, but then what ends up happening is nobody takes on the leadership role. And because they have other competing things that are their priorities, and where their attention is directed, it always gets put as a secondary priority to whatever other function they have in the organization.

So, I do think there has to be a team or person whose main focus is to have the story say equity and inclusion lens. I think the second thing is that the organization has to really think about what’s the appropriate resourcing? I have had conversations with diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders, companies of thousands and thousands and thousands of people, and they are the one person. 

And some of them are international organizations, which adds another layer of complexity to the work that they’re doing. And yet, they are completely under-resourced from a human capital perspective, who’s actually going to be on, on their side and who’s going to help them facilitate some of the things people want to happen.

So, I think that’s a huge problem, but it’s not just under-resourcing from a human capacity standpoint, it’s also under-resourcing from a financial capacity. For every strategic decision that we make, for every strategy that is– for every line item that we have on our ledger, we also have,  we have some costs.

Right? And we have some potential where we’re thinking about revenue. And I think that comes back to the strategy component. People don’t like to have this conversation, but there should be a conversation around how diversity, equity, and inclusion and our work here impacts our bottom line. Both impacts our expenses, so what are we willing to put into and, and, and make sure that we are undergirding our leadership with and giving them the ability and the resources they need to do the work that they have to do. But also what are we anticipating on the revenue side? And can we articulate that? And I think that if you don’t do that and have that conversation, and that’s not part of the team’s development, if they have no budget, then, I mean, you know, you’re setting them up for failure. 

Donald Thompson: And in many cases, it can be worse than doing nothing.

Deanna Singh: It is. 

Donald Thompson: You put out a press release, you hire that single person, you have the DEI pep rally and then there’s no follow-through.

Deanna Singh: No. No. And you, you know, and you demoralize the person that you put into that spot because the people who do this work, it is hard work. And when you are in this space and you’re under-resourced, and you can see, because what happens is as soon as you name somebody the diversity, equity, and inclusion leader, you know what happens?

They get all the information. They get all the details. Everybody comes to them with the challenges that they’re having and the ideas and the dreams that they have. And so, now they are bearing the weight of wanting to move the company forward, but also bearing the weight of being the, the pinnacle. Right? Of, of all of that data, all of that information, all of those requests, all of those dreams.

And if they have no way to be a good conduit for that, right? To be able to ignite other things with, with that, it just holds in them. That weight gets heavy and it gets heavy fast. And I think that’s why you see so much movement in diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders, because there’s a really rapid turnaround, right? Is that how long can you carry that weight for? 

Donald Thompson: That’s right. And the other leg to that is it’s now a highly sought after position.

Deanna Singh:  Yeah. 

Donald Thompson: So, companies that bring someone that’s talented, that’s experienced that is committed, but then don’t support that from a research standpoint, it’s going to be difficult to retain that individual because there’s so many more opportunities than there were in the past–

Deanna Singh: Absolutely. 

Donald Thompson: — For that role. Yeah. So, one of the questions that, that, that I have personally, right? What drove you to get into this work? Right? I have my story, my perspective. It certainly wasn’t, you know, “I’m going to study DEI in college.” Or, you know, I was running a software company, “Oh! My next big thing’s going to be diversity, equity, inclusion.” What was your journey like to get to the point where this is one of the key pinnacles to what you did? 

Deanna Singh: I don’t think that I, I, like I said, I literally think I was born into this work, so I don’t think I’ve ever done anything that didn’t have a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. But one of the things that I did a couple of years ago is I wrote a book called, Purposeful Hustle.

The whole book is about how you find your purpose and then how you work in that space. And  one of the things that, you know, I talk about in the book is what I think my own purpose is. And I I feel very strongly about this. And I have since I was pretty young. I feel like my purpose is to shift power to marginalized communities.

And because that has been the focus of, of my life, right? That’s not, that’s not Deanna today.  That’s the end-of-life purpose. That’s what’s always been my driver. Right? So, at the top of the show, you mentioned, like, I have a law degree. I mean, I have a business degree, I’ve started all kinds of companies, I was a professor, I was a CEO of multiple companies. I started a tech company, right? Like I, you know, I, right now I’m running four companies in addition to the, the uplifting impact. And so, the reason for that though, is because at every juncture, at every moment where it was like, well, you know, “What’s the next step? What are you going to do?”

 It always has been in response to that question. “Where can I have exponential impact when it comes to what I think my purpose is? Where can I shift more power to marginalized communities?” And there is no way to really have a conversation and to disconnect the marginalized communities and, and what that looks like from the conversation of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Those two things are inherently tied together because of the societal constraints that we have right now. And so, all my life, I have been working with populations that have been pushed to the margins. And, so I don’t know that I ever made a conscious decision to do the work. I think I always found myself in the work because of that purpose.

Donald Thompson: That’s powerful. And I think, you know, one of the things about having that clearly divine purpose is you know what to say no to, though. 

Deanna Singh: Absolutely. 

Donald Thompson: Right. And I think–

Deanna Singh: It’s still hard. 

Donald Thompson: I find myself struggling there, but like, It is important as we talk about commitments, financial and otherwise, for companies. These are made up of individuals, right? And we want those individuals to have that unified purpose with the company. And then, people know how to prioritize their time.

Deanna Singh: Right. 

Donald Thompson: The struggle that a lot of organizations are having is how to really, truly commit that for their DEI work. Because they’ve already spent years and effort in building out these strategic plans. And if it’s not organic, right? A lot of this is macro. All the events, and George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, all the different catalysts.

And now, it’s a new thing on the corporate radar. Right? So, my question with that is how do we help DEI leaders communicate upward to that C-suite, to that board level? Right? Why we need to create that strategic link versus that checkbox.

Deanna Singh:  I think that the game plan is actually already there and it already exists in all of our organizations. Because there are other things that have to be lifted up in the lifespan of an organization in order to get the attention of your leadership. And I think that a lot of times, again, and we do this as, as DEI leaders, is we think there has to be this other new path that we have to create that has to be brand new. Whereas, I would argue that the places where I’ve seen the most successful DEI work take hold the quickest, the fastest, with the most impact has been organizations that use some of the protocols that they currently have in order to lift up the information.

So, for example, if I were to say, “You know what? I have this amazing product I want to put in into the market, Donald. And I really want to elevate this up to our C-suite because I think this would really be a market differentiator for us. And I think it would help us with, with market share.”

Right? What would I do? I put together a proposal, I would be able to demonstrate the impact of it, I would look at it from the business perspective. I put it through all the same kind of process that we use, right? When we’re trying to elevate a new idea. And then, I would elevate it. Now, I think there’s a couple of issues that happen here.

One, we don’t think . About it that way. Right? We want people to do this work because of the good of their heart, we want people to do this work because it makes sense to us, and that’s why we do it. Because we care about it. And that’s all fine and well. But we don’t put new markets– we don’t put new things into market just because we feel good about them or because people feel– right?

Like, that’s not the way. And so, that’s the one thing that I think is a self-prohibitive behavior that sometimes we put out, but I also think that organizations also have to be prepared to receive it. Because I have also seen DEI leaders who put it together that way and kind of do it. And because there’s a worn path, but DEI has never been given the shoes to walk on it, people are like, “Wait, why are you here?” Right? “This isn’t your path. And so, I think that’s the other thing is that organizations have to commit themselves to opening up that pathway for DEI leaders to be able to have the conversation. And so, a lot of times, one of the first things I want to know is who do you report to?

Right? What, what is the strategic decision making process in your organization? How does this show up in strategy and when, when do you get to be part of that, that conversation, what’s your role in that conversation? And so, I just, I, I just think that too often, we’re trying to create, and, and it’s already a heavy load, and then we’re trying to create this– we’re trying to carry this heavy load up a path that, that doesn’t make sense for the organization. So, now we’ve got to teach them a new pathway of understanding and appreciation and decision-making, which is huge organizational change, right?

Like, that’s huge lift for organizational change. On top of the fact that we’re bringing something brand new. Right? So, so I just think the more we can try to do that. And I guess the last thing I would say just about this is that’s not because that’s the only way, I think that that’s the way that you get that sustainability, that’s how you get the buy-in, and then, my friend, then spend all the time you want creating these other pathways and these other avenues and these other– right? Like, that’s not– this is not a limiting conversation. This is a beginning conversation. 

Donald Thompson: How to create that momentum. 

Deanna Singh: Yeah. 

Donald Thompson: No, that is really, really powerful. Why create a new path when the path is already there and you have the nomenclature, the understanding, the way that you socialize content with executives before the meeting? Right? So, nobody is blindsided and you know what the objections are before you go in the room. All of those things you do, to your point, to elevate ideas–

Deanna Singh: Right. 

Donald Thompson: –To elevate new initiatives, should be very similar with, with DEI. And that, that’s really powerful, but I don’t think that’s well-articulated. Right? In terms of DEI practitioners in the charter for their roles. 

Deanna Singh: Yep. 

Donald Thompson: As we are seeing that people are treating it as this unicorn within the organization.

Deanna Singh: Yep. 

Donald Thompson: Not a part of the existing power structure in a way that additively create value.

Deanna Singh: Yep. 

Donald Thompson: Right? And go from there. So, I’m going to zoom out. And we look at our macro economy, we look at the silos of our politics, we look at the racial inequity that’s going on in our world. If you had a magic wand– 

Deanna Singh: I do. I have like 10. 

Donald Thompson: All right. So we’ll just use one. If you had a magic wand, what would you do to change the world? If you had this magic wand? 

Deanna Singh: I would shift power to marginalized communities. I– that’s what I would do. That’s what I’m trying to do with the magic wands. So, some are more successful than others, I think. And the reason for that, like what, what does that, what does that come back to? I mean, I’ve done a lot of different things in my life. I’ve been in a lot of different sectors.

I’ve been very blessed to be in a lot of different places in the world and have lots of different leadership roles. And, I have to tell you that, you know, there was a time where I thought differently, right? Like, where I would articulate what I thought the goal was differently. But the reason why I really press into this idea of shifting power is I do believe that all of the solutions that we need for all of the big challenges that we have in the world right now, already exist.

I think that they’re already here amongst us. I think the challenge is that we have not resourced them appropriately and people who have the ideas or have the concepts are not, are not validated, right? Like they’re, they’re not, they’re not brought into the, the, and, and given the opportunity to be able to have that power, to bring those solutions to life.

And so, I mean, I, I don’t think it’s more money. I mean, I I’m a big policy person. Like, but I don’t think, I, I think that those are important and they, they help, you know, track your path forward. I don’t think that that’s the solution either. I genuinely think that it’s this distribution of power. And that when people are able to fully thrive, like when they see themselves and they, they see that their voice matters and they see that they’re included and they have a space where they can share those ideas.

That’s where– that’s fundamentally where change comes from. So, I think of all– right? That’s where leadership comes from, that’s where the self-efficacy comes from, that’s where modeling comes from. That’s where all, all the things that we need in order to create change. So, my magic wand, everybody would shift power to marginalized communities. And then, we would sit back and watch as, as many of the things that trouble us in the world are corrected. 

Donald Thompson: That is powerful. One of the things that, as we wind our time together, I’m going to give you space in a moment to really talk about anything that you’d like to share that I hadn’t asked. A new book that’s coming, a new event, anything that you’d like. The final question for me, is you’re truly doing a lot, accomplishing a lot, running four companies and different things. So, from a sheer leadership prioritization standpoint, how do you keep it all together and moving? Right? What are some of the things just as that entrepreneurial leader you can share with other dream chasers? Where we have all these choices of things to do, how to keep it productive?

Deanna Singh: So, there’s a couple of things. One, surround yourself by amazing people who are smart and committed and passionate and purposed. I’m so grateful to have that both in my family and also in our team. They are just– everyday, I wake up like, “I get to hang out with these people! They’re fantastic.” So, I think that’s huge and it’s, it’s important. And it’s important to do that as much as you can to, to curate that kind of, a relationship. Right? And those relationships. I think the second thing is, I am super intense as it comes to my calendar and what my calendar looks like.

And so, I even teach a course in this. Because I get asked questions so often. Just about how I organize my calendar, like, what the, you know, how I use a model calendar, who I share that with, how I structure my, my days. I also talk about how I fail at it at least 20% of the time. Like, I only aim for 80% of success. Right? Because also, just understanding that you got to create some space, right? For some of that. So again, those would be the– those would be the two top things, is one, making sure that you’re very intentional about who you surround yourself with and who who’s part of your, your team. Per se. And then the second thing is just making sure that you are controlling your calendar.

I always tell people, “If you’re not controlling your calendar, somebody is.” Right? So, you got to think about, like, what that, what that really looks like and how you can get as much of that back to yourself. And that, that time that you’re controlling really is directed at your purpose.

Donald Thompson:  No. That’s awesome. Quick note on that, is that an e-learning course, is that a course you do for corporations? Like, I’m like, interested. 

Deanna Singh: Absolutely. 

Donald Thompson:  Like how would– how does that work? 

Deanna Singh: Yeah, so we do have a link on– so, if you go to, you’ll see all four of the companies. And it’s one of the offerings that we have for purposeful hustle. I do do that as a customized program for organizations and for individuals.

And we also do some coaching packages around it, just because it is such an intense thing. And honestly, it took me years and years and years to come up with this, like, structure that I use. And we use it all the time. And like I said, it doesn’t work a hundred percent of the time because that’s not the goal, but 80% of the time.

And it allows me to have four companies, and two children, and travel around the world, and do all this stuff because it, because it works. And because I failed so many times in order to get to that place where, where it could work. So, absolutely.

Donald Thompson: That’s a beautiful, additional nugget. So, I’ll be working on that one off– offline. Because I’m, I’m working on that, personally. As we, as we go through things, as we wind our time down, I want to give you some space. What would you like to share with our audience? What would you like to tell them about how to be in touch with you and work with you that I’ve not maybe asked or given you that space to do so?

Deanna Singh: First of all, thanks for the spaces here. We always have exciting things that are going on. So, I would encourage anyone who’s listening to just follow us on LinkedIn because that’s you know,  where we have a lot of our information posted. However, there are three really big things that are happening. One, I was asked by American Girl to write a Girl’s Guide.

So, that book is coming out shortly. And that book is all focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. So, if you have educators or young people in your life who you want to engage in this conversation, I’d highly encourage you to go ahead and look that up and reach out to us if we can support you in, you know, creating that opportunity. Because I do think the younger we can start to have these conversations and normalize these conversations, the more effective we’re going to be with the next generations. 

That’s one big project that’s coming out. Another is I actually am writing a book for Penguin Random House that won’t come out until spring of 2022. But that book is called Actions Speak Louder. And so, if you are an organization that is, or you’re an individual leader and you’re like, “I’m– we’ve had a lot of conversations. I’m ready to get to the next, the next phase.”

That’s something that we spend a lot of time helping our clients with and I’m writing a book on it. So, you know, I would love for you to check us out, check out the book, and, and check us out just as, as we think about those resources. And the last thing I will share with you is that by popular demand, we are continuing to do our “How to Be an Ally” summit.

It is a three-day summit. It’s totally affordable by design because we want people to be able to access it. It’s online, it’s a virtual experience, but I’ve been told by many people it’s unlike any other. After a little while, they forget that they’re in a, in a virtual landscape because we have a beautiful team that really produces it. And, you know, in a, in a very high quality fashion. But the reason why that “How to Be an Ally” summit has been so popular is because it really does give a lot of the grounding information that people as individual leaders need. But also, that teams can really benefit from.

So, you know, for example, we had a team of, I think, six or seven that came to the last summit and they are sending 125 of their leaders to the next one. We had a team of 15 and they’re sending 45. Right? Like, and so there’s this really beautiful thing that happens from a community building and an experience standpoint.

So often, this diversity, equity, inclusion work, because it’s so deep, it’s hard in an hour, and in 90 minutes, and, you know, brown bag lunches, to be able to get to some of the complexity that exists within, within the work. And, and one of the things that we really want to do is we want people to have that grounding so that they can be more comfortable and show up more fully in the spaces where they have influence.

And so, I would just highly encourage– I encourage that. And I guess one last thing, just because I just now remembered it. Is that okay? Is that fair? 

Donald Thompson: No, yeah. I’m into it. I’m taking notes. 

Deanna Singh: So yes, if you’re interested in the summit, you can just go to and sign up for the summit again; super affordable and so much fun. We have a grand, grand time and really very informative. But the other thing that we’re doing, is we actually were asked by the University of Wisconsin School of Business to write and deliver their professional certificate in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

So if any of your listeners are out there and they’re like, “You know what? This is an area– I’m a new diversity, equity, and inclusion officer,” or, “This is an area that I want to go deeper in my leadership skills.” That program, again, is being offered through the University of Wisconsin’s Business School.

You can also get that information right on our website too. So, if you’re interested in certification, I will tell you it’s intense. But it’s the good kind of intense, right? Where you walk out really, really well-equipped to be able to do this work well. 

Donald Thompson: Awesome. Deanna. Thank you so much. 

Full Episode Transcript

Purposeful Hustle, by Deanna Singh
Uplifting Impact Podcast
15 Purposeful Minutes
How to be an Ally Summit

The Donald Thompson Podcast is hosted by The Diversity Movement CEO, mentor, investor, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Donald Thompson.

Music for this episode provided by Jensen Reed from his song, “You Can’t Stop Me”.

The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence. For more on how to engage your community or build your personal brand through podcasting, visit

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