• CST Partners

Congratulations on making it to 2021. Welcome to the new world. Let’s create it together.

Lessons Learned in Becoming Essential

2020 brought more headlines and heartbreaks in rapid succession than any single year in our lifetime. Amidst so many unpredictable and unexpected events, 2020 escalated diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) from important to essential -- in how businesses, including healthcare systems, engage with their employees, customers and communities. Those of us in the field of DEI and multicultural communications have long known this to be true. 2020 initiated a shift where employees and community members demanded change and held leaders to account. This flashpoint, at the intersection of historic racism and the pandemic, reveals the amount of work we have yet to do to achieve equity. So we all roll up our sleeves.

Missing the “Hardest to Reach” Audiences

Early communication surrounding the virus was disjointed and often contradictory. Government was communicating to the masses and, even when the message was clear to most, it was leaving out many important audiences. CST began working on a multicultural, multilingual communications campaign for a convalescent plasma clinical trial with a leading research medical center. We helped the study managers understand how to design a culturally informed and culturally relevant outreach campaign to historically underrepresented communities: African American, Latino, and Asian American. CST’s multicultural marketing team worked to bridge decades of eroded trust in healthcare. Representation of racial and ethnic communities in such clinical trials is vital to researchers as they aim to develop treatments that are viable for all. It is only with broad representation that we can begin to address inequities in healthcare and COVID-19 outcomes. CST’s multicultural outreach work yielded over 2 million impressions for the clinical trial, setting a record for impact.

Lesson: Effective multicultural communication is essential to saving lives.

New World: Move beyond one-size-fits-all communication.

Out of the Comfort Zone to Lead Inclusively

Along with the COVID virus, the summer of 2020 brought long-standing, historic racial turmoil to the surface across America. With the successive murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others, organizational leaders changed their views on DEI from ‘nice to have’ to ‘can’t live without.’ This required many leaders to be competent in a space where they just didn’t have experience or weren’t comfortable. Suddenly, any organization that employed, educated, or governed Americans was expected to take a stance and create a plan of action. Unlike any other time in the recent past, the employees’ will drove companies to make public statements articulating how they were going to undertake diversity, equity, and inclusion work and initiate lasting change.

CST responded to the rapid influx of people grappling with seemingly intractable issues in every area of their lives. CST clients needed somewhere to start conversations about race and pain, building shared understanding of life experiences. Leaders needed preparation for critical conversations with their teams. CST provided Reflective Listening sessions, implicit bias training, and training on mitigating and disrupting bias. We conducted inclusion climate surveys that resulted in actionable data to inform strategy.

Lesson: Those companies that prioritized DEI prior to 2020 were better positioned to respond.

New World: Don’t wait for the next crisis to take action.

Congratulations on making it to 2021. Welcome to the new world. Let’s create it together.

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