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  • Writer's pictureDr. Christine Senn, PhD

Clinical Trial Marketing: Diversity

Diversity—it's not a check-the-box solution for your marketing efforts. Marketing isn't done in a diversified way, and you go, “Oh yes, I put something in there, some image of my marketing and that made it diverse”. I guess it's a first step, but I would actually like to say it's the last step. When you are marketing, you are doing it to represent who your company is and appeal to the people who you're trying to get as your clients, right?

So in the case of clinical research, what is our true purpose in having diversity? It's amazing purpose. It's the best purpose of all. It's that we are hoping to get medications and preventative treatments to as many people who need them as possible. And our goal is that we want those medications to be shown to work in people, everybody, as many people as possible, or have a drug monograph that says it's for a certain population. That's a beautiful goal, we are truly trying to help people, and I think if you go into everything with your clinical site, with that lens of we're trying to attract people into clinical trials because we want to help as many people as possible, that shows through and that's what I want to talk about before we talk about actual marketing.

It starts with how you hire, it starts with something as simple as your intake forms at your company. So, forms don't sound exciting, they don't even sound like marketing. I'll contend that I'm a form geek, but also that I think they are, because what is the first thing a new patient gets? They get a patient form. Now, if the form shows only male and female, I don't think that that is a diversified form and it's not necessarily saying to someone, “I accept you who you are” and that's going to be true of all these things.

“I accept you, who you are” is the fundamental pillar of respect in a clinical setting. So, let's start with that. What other options are there for people to identify themselves? If it's only two races, there's no ethnicities, they're not a multi-ethnicity option. What about your legal name? Your legal name usually have to show driver's license or something like that to show who you are. But what about a preferred name? What about your preferred pronoun? Well, how does that all translate then into the exam room? So, let's say now someone has gotten this form, they stay or they don't stay because maybe they don't feel seen in terms of the form, but they now go into the exam room and your clinical staff don't want to call the person by their pronoun they want to call them by the way they perceive the person to look, the pronoun they think they should have, or they're not respecting of one of their religious beliefs that has to do with the exam itself.

This is a problem, and this is the lack of diversity. And of course, no one's trying to do this, but we don't always have the opportunity to go into our exam rooms with our clinical staff and see how this is being played out. So, the hiring process is extremely important because there are many diverse initiatives in hiring to make sure that your employees look like your community. Not every community looks the same. It's not like you can have, you can represent everyone possible, but your people should pretty much look like your community, and where they can't, you haven't been able to get there yet because maybe you've just started this hiring initiative, then you can at least make sure that your people are full of the greatest of respect for everyone and accept everyone for exactly who they are. Once you get to that, that's the best of all. After that, the marketing is simply trying to communicate with the patients you want to.

It is making sure representation in images. You don't always have the same looking type of doctor, same looking type of nurse, same looking type of patient. Also, branch out, have other people speak on television interview or a radio interview or something like that and you want to talk about women's health issues. Consider having a woman in your company present on that or discuss that.

You want to talk about health disparities in the black community. Have a black person from your staff. talk about that. You know, being mindful of who the message is coming from can give your best and brightest the opportunity and platform to make an impact on other people and on themselves as well, right? We're growing people all the time, but that is how you make an impact in diversity in a truly meaningful way and not just, “I use the right images”.

Hope you'll share this with your HR departments, your clinical staff, and your marketing staff (who probably is already aware of this). Take care.

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