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Core Exchange: Diversity Improves Outcomes

The business case for inclusion

“Lack of diversity in healthcare negatively impacts health outcomes.” A simple premise. And a compelling call-to-action. Listen using the player embedded below or read the full transcript. Be sure to subscribe to Core Exchange on iTunes.

  • Core Exchange | Diversity impacts outcome

Episode Transcript:

Stephanie B: Hello and welcome to The Core Exchange, a podcast for healthcare marketers. I'm Stephanie Burton, director of healthcare marketing for Core Creative. We are picking up where we left off with David Bowles with CMR Marketing. We're talking about multicultural marketing and what are listeners need to know as healthcare marketers.

David Bowles: Absolutely, well thank you for having me back. This is wonderful.

Stephanie B: You and I were talking about... Before we started talking. We really should have recorded this whole thing. We shouldn't of said anything, because we had some good conversation before we started to record.

Stephanie B: But I remember working with the health system and we created a tool called a brand compass, which is essentially a two-sided document that is really the compass or the sheet music of your health system. As part of that, what we'd like to do is include an employee profile. It's important for us to have some insights about the demographics, the psychographics of the people who are inside an organization too, because that's going to impact how we communicate with folks.

Stephanie B: That's not saying that all white people like to be communicated with this way or all black people like to be communicated that way, but it means that it's allowing us to develop just a little bit more insight, a little bit more empathy, for the folks who work inside a health system.

Stephanie B: One of the things that was disheartening to me even as we put the statistics... You know, 80% Caucasian, 10% African-American, 2% native American, we were actually asked to remove that information all together because no one could see that we talked about race. What a missed opportunity. What a missed opportunity, because not everyone looks like me, right?

David Bowles: Absolutely.

Stephanie B: So I... What would you say in that circumstance? That was a tough one for me to navigate.

David Bowles: Yeah, I'm sure it was, and I think that you're an open-minded person, so it's... Not to say that people who want that removed are a closed-minded person, but I think part of it is it gets back to your question earlier around discomfort. I think instead of people wanting to acknowledge facts sometimes, they want it removed because it makes them feel uncomfortable. I think in that case, I think I would recommend the value of identifying those numbers.

David Bowles: We've in the past... A few years ago we did a... We were hired to do a campaign around diversifying the public health workforce. So one of the things that we learned in doing some research for that was the lack of diversity actually directly negatively impacts health outcomes among communities.

Stephanie B: Can you say that again, because this is important. This is it.

David Bowles: Yeah. I have research. Anyone can reach out to me for that. The lack of diversity in the healthcare workforce negatively impacts health outcomes among [inaudible 00:03:26].

Stephanie B: This is huge. This is huge, especially when we talk about population health management. This is huge. So we talk about not only the bottom line and how it impacts your bottom line, but this is... These are people's lives.

David Bowles: Exactly.

Stephanie B: And what an opportunity... There's that word again. What an opportunity to impact people's lives positively, and by adding more diversity to our workforce, just by doing that, we can see the health of our communities increase.

David Bowles: Absolutely.

Stephanie B: Hello. And what health system doesn't have a mission that's about improving the population of the communities they serve?

David Bowles: Exactly. Exactly.

Stephanie B: So you hit the nail on the head.

David Bowles: The health systems, they want what's best for the communities. We both know this. I think it really comes down to sometimes things get lost in translation, right? It may be that data isn't flowing out to people or there may be other reasons why that can't come to life, but I think that there's more people that champion the value of that and actually in this case, in the healthcare sector, that's making the business case as well, to say look, if your mission is to really improve your community health, this is one way to help do that.

David Bowles: Again, it's not putting people who might be unqualified for a position in that position, but it's actively looking to have those perspectives and say okay, here's who we are and this is about really creating that positive change that will move the needle.

Stephanie B: Yeah. That's awesome. Tell us about some of the favorite things that you've done in your career, your best work.

David Bowles: Oh, I would say my favorite work was... We're doing some work now with one of the DOD agencies, so one of the military units.

Stephanie B: Okay. Define DOD.

David Bowles: Yeah, it's within the DOD. It's... Well, it's the Air National Guard. So I really... Before this, I'll be honest, was not too privy to the difference between the Air National Guard and like the Air Force. Now I understand that the National Guard has... It's specific to each state, so actually the Chief Executive of the National Guard, the Commander-in-Chief, is the Governor of each state. It's not the President of the United States, unless he nationalizes the Guard.

David Bowles: So that was interesting. I enjoy the work because it is so localized. We're working with a number of different states throughout the US. We're working with the national campaign as well. But what I've learned in that is that like I really get to dive into some of these local cultures, from places that are rural in Illinois to more urban areas on the East Coast, and it's just be a great learning experience to see how people interact with the brand and how so many people love the country and they just want to do what's right for the country, but then also be able to kind of improve their own lives, so that's been wonderful.

David Bowles: Other work that we've done... We do a lot of public sector campaigns around healthcare, so whether it's flu or vaccinations, that kind of work that makes us feel good. We know that we're doing work that needs to be done, that's creating public awareness, but that's driving positive health outcomes.

Stephanie B: That's fantastic.

David Bowles: So I get to sleep well at night, thinking I'm not selling... You know, trying to sell 12,000,000 bottles of something. I'm trying to actually create that change. That's a big reason why we are so excited to partner with Core, is that you guys are all about that change too, and the stuff that you do is all about positivity.

Stephanie B: That's right. That's right. What are some of things when you talk about flu or a vaccine... How is marketing to a cross-cultural audience different than marketing to the quote-unquote general public?

David Bowles: Yeah. I'll give you an example with the vaccinations. The flu vaccine is one campaign where we've done probably four or five different campaigns, so we have a lot of research. It's interesting, because the reasons for people not getting vaccinated are different based on the cultures.

David Bowles: Like for example, there are the anti-vaxxers, which actually we've all heard about, which we all think is unscientific and ridiculous. But those folks have a cultural reason that they believe that. People of color who don't get vaccinated aren't necessarily anti-vaxxers for that same reason. Their aversion to vaccinations is more historic.

David Bowles: There were tests that were done at Tuskegee and it was... People were given syphilis, and so they have a distrust of government-wide anything, and particularly vaccinations, so those dynamics have to be addressed in different ways.

David Bowles: So when you're doing a campaign and you're speaking to maybe an upper middle-class white individual who's an anti-vaxxer and a lower income African-American person who's against vaccinations, those are starkly different messages.

Stephanie B: Right. Right. Absolutely. Absolutely. It's fascinating to dive into those particular personas. I think there's a great responsibility there as well to insure that people are healthy. I think it's interesting, and we can do another podcast about this, but the folks who are anti-vaxxers, there's a conversation that needs to be had there as well.

Stephanie B: The putting your hand up and saying you were dumb and wrong, that takes us nowhere. It's understanding and listening. That's another point of diversity, and we've got to look at how we bring people who have different perspectives into the ballpark.

David Bowles: I couldn't agree more with what you're saying. I mean I think that, again, it does get back to discussions, and I think part of our job as marketers now is to really understand how to create discussions and have conversations with people. That's where the industry is moving.

David Bowles: I think people are trying to do it on social, which in my opinion okay, that's great and it's a channel that people are using, but we got to get back to doing it the old-fashioned way, where it's sitting like this and people talking about things that are difficult to swallow on your own or behind a computer screen, but when you talk to someone and listen to them and feel their human energy, it changes the entire perspective of the meeting.

Stephanie B: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that's a great note to end on unless you have... What question didn't I ask that I should have asked?

David Bowles: Well, is there anything that you ever wanted to ask around the topic of diversity that you felt uncomfortable asking?

Stephanie B: You know, I don't know honestly, because I have girlfriends who I feel like I can have these good conversations with and they don't get offended by the stupid questions that I may ask.

David Bowles: I think that's so important to have like a diverse friend group and not just people that you seek out on the street, like I only picked you because you're black. It's like no.

Stephanie B: You can be my black friend.

David Bowles: Right. That's not cool. But what is cool though is like being comfortable with friends like that and having that ability to talk to them. Like I had a really good friend and he grew up in upstate New York and very... And I don't mean this politically, a very conservative background. So he didn't have a lot of exposure to people of color.

David Bowles: So we became really good friends in college. We were in the Christian Fellowship Group together, so I was able to kind of show him my experience and talk with him about stuff over a period of time. So we became friends like sophomore year and then up until now, so it's been, I don't know, over... I don't even know how long, a long time.

David Bowles: But the point is is that I think that... I like to think that I helped him get to a place where he's a lot more comfortable... He actually ended up marrying a black person just a few months ago.

Stephanie B: Oh, really?

David Bowles: I didn't think that... If you would have asked me when I first met him, I didn't figure that was going to happen. So I think that part of it is like my ability to hopefully be the friend to him... You know, I don't know if that was the reason. It probably wasn't the only reason, but maybe he felt more comfortable hearing my experience and me listening to him and just talking through stuff.

David Bowles: There were some difficult conversations, I'm going to be honest. It was not always rosy. It was things that were said or things that were done that each of us might have had a problem with. But that's... A part of being friends is that you teach each other and you love people and you're willing to learn with them.

Stephanie B: Uh-huh (affirmative). I remember... This was 20 years ago maybe, and it was... I will not name the TV show, but it was reality TV show and there was a character who came on and she had grown up without a lot of people of color in her life. She had been taught to use a slur in describing black folks, and she had never been exposed to anything differently.

Stephanie B: So she came into this reality TV setting and people said what did you just say? That's not how we refer to things. She became my favorite character, because she was open-minded to hearing oh, this is just how I learned things. I didn't know that. The way that the folks embraced her... You know, we're going to have an open conversation about this, was really inspiring. I think that that's one of the things that we can do.

Stephanie B: I love that you asked me that question, what is the one thing that I want to ask but I'm afraid to, because it's these open conversations like this that are going to help create that bridge as opposed to the barriers. That doesn't mean that we'll always agree, but we can agree to respect each other, right?

David Bowles: Exactly. That's what we need more of. Just there's so much anger, and I think that people are moving to a spot where they're viewing people as enemies. By doing so you're dehumanizing people. That's the whole tactic of war, is dehumanize your enemy so you can kill them easier.

David Bowles: But obviously in this case we're not getting to that point I hope, but we are getting to a point where people are seeing people with different political views or different ethnic backgrounds as the enemy. We're all people, we're all humans, and we're all Americans, and we got to come together.

David Bowles: So I'm hopeful though that there's a lot of people out there like us, that are willing to be open-minded. In my experience, I have so many friends who are of different backgrounds and, you know, I just love engaging with them because I get to hear their stories. It keeps me grounded in my experience.

Stephanie B: For sure. For sure. Well, there you have it folks. It's David and Stephanie solving the world's issues.

David Bowles: Love it.

Stephanie B: We'll be back next week and solve more of the world's issues. Truly it's such an honor to have you here. You bring such a great perspective. Thank you for your open-mindedness and your willingness to talk about this very important issue that is not just a add-on, it's not a flavor of the month. We'll be talking about this forever, and it really should be embedded in health systems cultures, diversity and inclusion.

David Bowles: I love that, and I thank you for having me on Stephanie. I like to have conversations, so if people are willing to shoot me a message, that works as well.

Stephanie B: Awesome. Sounds good. You had mentioned some important research during our discussion. We will post that on the Core Creative website,, where many of you all ready found this podcast. Thanks again for joining us.

David Bowles: Thanks so much Stephanie.


Stephanie Burton, APR is the Director of Healthcare Marketing at Core Health.


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