From Terrified to Top 5% Podcast: Jackie Ferguson’s Diversity Beyond the Checkbox Journey

With millions of shows to compete with, reaching the top 5% of podcasts is an incredible feat, and Diversity: Beyond the Checkbox has achieved it!

Hosted by Jackie Ferguson, the show continues to break records each day and educate listeners on diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, and teaches them how they can implement those lessons in their workplace and beyond.

So how did the show become so successful? We asked Jackie a few questions to find out!

Why did you decide to start a podcast? 

The Diversity Movement’s CEO, Donald Thompson, started this podcast to have conversations with professionals in the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) space.Our goal was to provide best practices, up-to-date information, and expert perspectives for organizational leaders responsible for DEI. When I took over the podcast in its second season, I focused on recruiting guests who were experienced DEI leaders and expanded the conversation to topics such as allyship, inclusive language, and how to lead a DEI practice.

Donald passed you the hosting mic after the first season. What was your first season on the show like? How has it changed?

As someone who has always been behind the scenes, hosting a podcast was very scary for me. But my guests have been so great, making the conversations both fun and informative. I really enjoy getting to know each of them and learning more about their individual expertise. I would say, in the last season especially, I have expanded the conversation beyond workplace DEI, although there is always a common thread of inclusion or giving back to others. One big difference in the last year is that I get a lot more professionals and authors reaching out who are interested in becoming a guest on the podcast, so I don’t have to do outreach in the same way anymore. 

You’ve talked with a lot of legendary leaders about a lot of different, difficult topics. What have you learned on the show? 

The most important thing I’ve learned is that there is so much more to learn. There are so many people with such great expertise, different approaches, and different ways to think about things. I like to approach every conversation as an opportunity to expand my own knowledge while sharing the discussions with listeners. I’ve also learned how many aspects are involved in producing a good podcast. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that part, thanks to my friends at Earfluence. 

You had nerves in the beginning, but you overcame them. What would you tell someone who wants to start a show but feels podcast-phobic?

I’d say just try it! The most important thing is to do your research on your guests or topics, and make sure you have strong questions or talking points so conversations are interesting and fluid for listeners. Consistency is key. Your listeners want to understand your cadence, whether it’s once a week or a full season of episodes released at a time. Find what works for you, but be consistent. 

Jackie Ferguson The Diversity Movement

After two and a half years and 65 episodes, your show is in the top 5% of podcasts in the WORLD. That has to feel good, right?

It is very exciting. Hosting a good podcast is a lot of work, but knowing that my conversations resonate with people – and that they are continuing to listen – is such a gift. I hope we continue to attract listeners who find our guests and stories interesting. 

You talk with DEI professionals that are making an impact. Whose episode has had the biggest impact on you?

This is so hard because there have been so many incredible and inspiring guests over the past couple years! I recently spoke with Paul Zeitz who is a trained epidemiologist and has devoted his life to movements of change, including working in Africa at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and, now, working to end sexual violence against children and on a movement toward racial healing and economic justice. I cried during that episode because of the incredible work he is doing. 

We’re grateful to work with Jackie on her impactful podcast. If you haven’t heard the show, you surely see you’re missing out. Click here to tune in!

And, of course, if you want help reaching the top 5% with your show, we’re here to help. Set up a 15 minute consultation with us to get started!

Associate Producer and Content Strategist
About the Author
A radio journalist who leverages her experience as a writer and millennial to create engaging social media content. She can tell any story in 280 characters or less.