Eradicating Inequality & Discrimination with Market Research

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Posted Dec 18, 2020
Tiffany Mullin

In my previous post, I highlighted several startling facts about inequality and the lack of diversity in the US, which Melissa Gonsalves – Co-Founder & Director, Colour of Research (CORe) & Director of Strategic Insights at Differentology spoke about during her Insighter Virtual Conference session, 'Equality in an Unequal World.'

Admittedly, the statistics are disparaging and dire. It's clear that change is needed, but you may be wondering, 'what can I do?'.  

Whether you're a market researcher, business owner, or corporate professional, we can all do our part to change our reality.

In this post, I’ll break down a few of the different strategies suggested by Melissa, that you can deploy, according to the issue. 

Gender Inequality 

It all starts by equipping yourself with the facts and educating others to create awareness.

So, look at your organization. Evaluate how many women it has in entry, junior, and senior-level research roles.

Now compound that to your board level. Are your numbers like those seen in Fortune 500 companies? If the answer is 'yes,' therein lies the problem. 

Now you have identified an area in your company that needs reform. From this point, you start having conversations with colleagues about their views and experiences concerning equality. 

If you have a community or equality and diversity officer, you can talk with them, too, and figure out how to promote equality internally. 

You can also encourage or work with management to look at your recruitment and internal processes end-to-end to pinpoint and remove discriminatory practices.

This includes assessing your paid maternity leave policy and conducting a salary audit.

Additionally, you can recognize and champion diverse female talent while setting them up for success.

This could be through channels like mentorship schemes or hosting 'spotlight' weeks in which you acknowledge and promote your top female talent from different races, genders, and sexualities.

Dedicate time to explaining how discrimination harms the individuals involved and hinders the success of the companies they work for.

When people are sidelined, they're less likely to give their all to the role. Consequently, they may also pack up their talents and jump ship to competitors who respect their differences and take action to shatter the glass ceilings.

This can skyrocket recruitment costs and skills gaps in your company, which no business wants.

Inequality and motherhood

Tackling maternity pay issues would be particularly impactful in America, where the allocated leave is nowhere near what women receive throughout the world's western hemisphere.

Educate management on the importance of taking a stance on these matters and implementing affirmative action to ensure equality. 

For instance, when a woman leaves to have a baby, she should be adequately compensated and supported. This way, she won't lose out on pay and return poorer.  

Transgender Inequality

As market research professionals, you have the power of data. You are the guardians of the details.

This is huge since the data that you collect creates change, informs decisions, spearheads policies, and more. It also comes with a significant moral responsibility. So you should aim to be inclusive when compiling or conducting market research. 

When creating surveys, how often have you considered increasing your gender spectrum to include all gender types instead of simply male and female?

We all know that data can help shift perceptions and bring conversations and topics like this to the surface.

This is your chance to collect data and put people who don't fall in the binary spectrum on the map and give them a voice.

So, bring the issue to the surface by relaying the facts on transgender inequality in the data. 

You can help change the narrative around gender by actively choosing to include a wider gender spectrum in your research.

The other option is to recruit and develop trans talent affirmatively. 

The next time you're looking to hire, if you have a diverse spectrum that reflects the area that you live in or the country you live in, look further into the transgender community for talent.

You could do your part to break the cycle of inequality and lower the unemployment rate by hiring more ethnic minority trans people.

White privilege and wealth inequality in the ethnic minority communities

Ethnic representation can bring us closer to equality. Systemic racism has contributed to persistent race-based gaps, and they manifest in different economic indicators. 

This is represented in the significant household wealth difference in the white community compared to ethnic minority communities. 

This also highlights centuries of white privilege that has made it difficult for people of color to achieve economic security. 

So, what can you do to pull off a much-needed 180-degree turn?

To begin with, looking at the market research industry, ethnic minorities are underrepresented across roles and industries.

Just look at your virtual Zoom rooms or your former physical offices. If you can count the number of people who are not white, there's an issue. So, start there. 

Ask how you can begin the journey to change in your company. Do you need to:

  • Appoint an equality and diversity officer? 
  • Host sessions designed to provide networking opportunities for people of color to access the connections previously reserved for their white colleagues? 
  • Throw out discriminatory cultures, beliefs, and processes?

There are many ways to go about pushing equality and diversity. So, get creative! 

As you talk to diverse respondents sharing findings from international research, there seems to be a danger that you use a single lens that's not authentic to the people you research and the culture that's being researched

Diverse research needs diverse researchers. By having diverse researchers, we can bring people into the industry that may have never considered market research as a career because of the lack of representation. 

When people can't see success through someone that looks like them, it becomes a struggle to picture themselves in that role or positive outcome.

Don't just aim to implement diversity and equality in your research or talk about it with your peers. Execute it in your surroundings! Work to engrain diversity in your company culture until having people from all walks of life is the norm. 

We can't erase the rampant inequality and lack of diversity that's plagued the corporate world since its inception with one quick fix. 

However, we can start chipping away at the injustices, discrimination, favoritism, and elitism through strategic actions and collaborations.  

Emphasize a 'we' culture, working together to change our society's trajectory with colleagues, industry peers, as well as equality and diversity advocates. Involve your management from the start to get buy-in for initiatives early on.

Strive for a diverse workforce, have ongoing conversations on inequality and diversity to breakdown the barriers of silence discrimination has hidden behind for centuries. 

Create better, more frequent opportunities for transgender and ethnic minority groups to bridge the widening gaps in wealth and success. 

Also, be sure to publicly recognize a job well done to allow hardworking staff to shine regardless of their color, race, gender, or sexuality.

And don't forget to advocate for them if you know they'll be great for an upcoming promotion, but politics and ingrained discrimination could prevent them from excelling.

It'll be an uphill battle, but together, we can make change happen. Let's get to work!

Want to learn more about how you can affect change within your organization? Connect with Melissa inside the Insighter community.

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