Talent Spotlight: Katee Van Horn on Building Diversity & Inclusion for Your Company

katee van horn talent spotlight

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, every company wishes they had the secret recipe to maintaining inclusivity while hiring for speed in today’s talent market, especially when the very best talent is off the market in just a cool 10 days ( But what is the secret sauce and how do great companies hire with diversity and inclusion in mind? What do they measure along the way, and what do all companies need to do more of to hire for innovation in 2020?

We recently sat down with Katee Van Horn, CEO of VH Included Consulting and long-time veteran building out diversity and inclusion while VP of Global Engagement & Inclusion for over six years at GoDaddy to find out.

Getting started with diversity and inclusion 

“When I start working with organizations, they know they need to focus on inclusion, diversity, and belonging, but they may not be sure of where to start,” says Van Horn. This topic can be fairly overwhelming when you start to dig in, so most companies are determined to figure out a solution when they implement the help of a consultant. 

For most organizations, there is a need and a want to change and get better. They want to create an inclusive environment for current and future employees. They understand that employees are central to the success of the organization and they want to create a place where everyone feels like they can bring their authentic selves to work.

 Setting goals around diversity and inclusion

The first step is to understand the current state. “We need to know how people feel about working for the organization before we set goals,” says Van Horn. So the first “goal” is understanding current state. From there, you can set more specific goals that focus on inclusion, diversity, and belonging that will make an impact for the future.

There are a couple of different ways to measure success outside of just demographics, which is where most folks tend to focus. “I suggest using engagement surveys to measure the ENPS or Employee Net Promoter Score,” says Van Horn. Start with a baseline at the beginning to know where you are starting from. Once you start to implement changes to improve diversity, you can see what impact it’s made to that score over time. 

“For recruiting, a lot of folks measure sourcing and demographic data upon hire,” Van Horn says. Instead, she suggests to find tools that help you understand the demographics of those who are applying for the role and measuring how far they move in the process. If you see that all women of color are declined during the phone screen, for example, you can figure out the “why.” Having this data on hand allows you to take the right actions. This is what measuring for D&I is all about.

Katee Van Horn’s top D&I accomplishments

“When I hear a recruiter talk about inclusion, diversity, and belonging to a hiring manager or am told that my workshops helped people to understand their own biases, that makes me feel like I am truly making a difference,” says Van Horn. “I have received different accolades in my career, but those daily reminders and little wins mean the most to me.” 

She continues that for each person, the journey to a diverse and inclusive culture can be different: “Start small. You don’t need to roll out major programs and huge splash campaigns about diversity. You need to make practical, small tweaks to what you are already doing that will make a difference.”. 

From there, you will start to see real change occur. And since the work of inclusion, diversity, and belonging is usually an add to what folks are already doing, small steps will ensure sustainability over time.

Structuring diversity and inclusion programs for long-term success 

The sooner companies can start working on inclusion, diversity, and belonging, the better. Lever started diversity and inclusion initiatives as a ten-person company. “This might mean in the start up phase or it might be when you are a team of thousands,” says Van Horn. “Just get started!”

 “Unfortunately, I think HR teams sometimes add this to their day jobs and try their best to make change happen,” adds Van Horn. “They feel like they should know what to do about inclusion, diversity, and belonging because it is about people. I suggest asking for experts to come in and help get you started.This will help you to focus on the programs and work that will make the most impact. Everyone is busy, so asking for help is key.”

Lastly, you need to have buy-in from the senior leadership team, so they can drive this work and reinforce whatever you roll out.

Final thoughts: Getting buy-In for D&I initiatives

“I use the analogy of products when speaking about inclusion, diversity, and belonging,” says Van Horn. “You wouldn’t launch a new product or go into a new market without program dollars.” If you think about inclusion, diversity, and belonging as a new product, this is a no brainer that you will need money to fund this work. “And I also like to share the data that the McKinsey Group has found linking improvements in innovation and market share to diversity. And to be clear, it doesn’t need to be millions of dollars. If you focus on the right programs, policies, processes, you will get the most positive impact on the culture.”

Some stats we like  from McKinsey include: 

  • Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at the executive level are 33%more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile.

  • When it comes to gender diversity, companies in the top quartile are 21% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile.

Lever has many great resources on diversity and inclusion and is proud to be a diverse and inclusive employer. Some eBooks to help guide your way are our diversity and inclusion handbook, as well as our diversity and inclusion scorecard

Want to get in touch with Katee to learn more on how to get started? Go to her website at: to learn more.