Deanna Ransom is on a mission to empower women, strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace, and make the business world better, one person at a time.
After more than 25 years in the B2B Sales and Marketing space, Deanna is taking everything she’s learned and bringing it into the not-for-profit world to serve the greater good. In just two months as the Executive Director for Women in Revenue, she has already started to build a foundation that will help ensure women and other diverse groups in business will be present, heard, valued, appreciated, and empowered.
Deanna’s powerful, smart, and brutally honest. And in 50 inspiring minutes on Episode #11 of the Marketing Gets Real podcast, she gave goosebumps to our hosts, Cari Baldwin and Dana Harder, over and over again. Let’s hear some “Deanna-isms” about why DE&I goes bad, the circumstances that led to an epic product launch failure, and how she responded when she got passed up for assertiveness training.
“I’m kinda over diversity initiatives that want to bring in different types of people, but they don’t reshape the culture so those people can be heard, valued, and appreciated.”
Data shows that diversity drives business results. So, why has it been so difficult for so many companies to make a true impact with DE&I? In some cases, Deanna says, it’s because they’re not doing the tough things they need to do to achieve success. “Let’s stop doing the same motions and recognize the work that’s gonna have to be done organizationally… to hire and retain diverse talent,” she says. Bam! (Insert mic drop here!)
Part of that hard work means showing diverse talent respect by not only giving people a seat at the table but actually listening to what they have to say. “There’s nothing worse than being brought in as a leader—and I’ve experienced it—where OK, you bring me in because of my expertise and perspective, and then you tell me what to do,” Deanna says. Bottom line: When you put a new person in a role and make them execute it the way it’s always been done before, it’s a recipe for disaster.
“You get what I call this echo chamber of death”
That’s what Deanna calls it when she’s in a room with internal stakeholders and they’re spending all of their time praising the product they’ve just created… before it launches. She saw it happen firsthand in one of her earlier Marketing leadership roles. Her team was supposed to bring the product zealots down to earth, but one of her direct reports never questioned their unwarranted enthusiasm for their new toy.
Then, when it launched, “Our customers were like, what the [bleep] is this? This isn’t even what we asked for,” Deanna says. “We’ve never seen a failure of a product launch that large.”
As the Marketing team leader at the time, Deanna took full responsibility. She also sat down with her direct report and found out the surprising reason why she didn’t feel like she could push back on the product team. We’ll let Deanna take it from here:
“You may have denied me one class, but you will never stop me from speaking up for myself or others and for advocating what’s right.”
Early in her career, Deanna was part of a 12-person sales team that was transitioning into an Account Executive-type role. She reported to a Business Unit Manager, or BUM. (That’s what they called the role. Honest!) All of her 11 colleagues were chosen to go to assertiveness training to help them prepare for their new roles. Except for Deanna. Surprised, she went to her BUM and asked why. “That’s why you’re not going,” was the shocking reply!
“I could’ve taken it as a compliment,” Deanna says. “But I realized I was being left out. And looking at it now, I see that… the thought of me learning additional skills that would let me speak up for myself was scary for them.” You can rest assured that Deanna has never—and will never—let the same thing happen again, to her or to anyone else on her team!
Grab your headphones, pen, and paper, because Deanna has a lot more to say, and you’re gonna want to take notes. Listen to the rest of Episode #11 and learn her tips for creating meaningful dialogue. You’ll also discover why she says “no” is a complete sentence, and you’ll learn why she believes that turning down revenue is sometimes a good thing. Listen closely! And don’t forget to subscribe now so you don’t miss any more insights.