Dr. Bonnie Henry: Contending with COVID-19 in Visible Minority Communities

by: Benjamin Bigio, Janaki (Jana) Seijts, Gerard Seijts

Publication Date: August 23, 2021
Length: 16 pages
Product ID#: 8-735-379

Core Disciplines: Communications, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Leadership/Organizational Behavior, Marketing/Sales, Social Impact

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Teaching Note

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Honorable Mention; DEI Global Case Writing Competition.
COVID-19 had been one of the deadliest pandemics ever seen, causing nearly two million deaths and 100 million cases worldwide. With no vaccine in sight for the public until at least January 2021, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer of British Columbia (BC), had to steer the Canadian province through the COVID-19 pandemic. Had Dr. Henry overlooked the implications that factors such as ethnicity, language, and race had for the fight against COVID-19? Public health messaging destined for racialized and diverse communities was inherently complex, and social media had already erupted with posts from many frustrated members of visible minority communities. Dr. Henry wondered what communications strategy, if any, should be urgently set in motion to help curb the increase in COVID-19 cases. Who should the communications strategy target? What message should be delivered and through what channels? The lives of BC residents were in Dr. Henry’s hands.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Understand how the various demographic characteristics (e.g., race, ethnicity, language) of a target audience must be considered when developing a communications strategy.
  • Develop and deliver an effective communications strategy concerning sensitive issues with respect and professionalism.
  • Consider how a leader’s character and gender may play a role in decision making, as well as their impact on the target audience when designing and delivering communications materials.
  • Review, interpret, and leverage statistical data to draw inferences and make logical connections regarding a target audience in a meaningful way.
  • Understand the notion of stigmatization, as well as how preventing and addressing social stigma are pertinent to effective communication with a target audience as part of a communications strategy.