A new sense-check solution for market research & insights professionals seeking to ensure inclusive, non-biased approaches to their research methods
In a survey geared towards identifying the content market researchers & insights professionals wanted to see in a more equitable and diverse MRX industry, just under 80% requested best practice solutions for multicultural insights, research and strategy.
The desire for guidance around gathering and interpreting multicultural data & insights is not surprising with today’s increasingly diverse and culturally-layered mainstream audience. However, the amount of requests for guidelines clearly demonstrated that many market researchers are lost when it comes to how to think about research techniques and approaches that can also capture the varied cultural nuances of today’s new mainstream consumers.
Insights in Color, a new initiative for multicultural research professionals, got to work figuring out the best way to deliver solutions for this needs and it’s much bigger than a “Best Practice List” .
WHY BEST PRACTICE LISTS FALL SHORT
There are key conflicts with the idea of creating a “Best Practices List” to provide solutions for research methods and approaches. The simplistic nature of this kind of list heavily juxtaposes the complex, multilayered and intersectional nature of identity; especially multicultural identity.
Additionally, creating a list that only addresses multicultural-focused projects would be incorrect, as the diversity of the “new mainstream” now requires ethnic-lead perspectives to be automatically considered & included. Essentially, researchers no longer have the privilege of separating or ‘othering’ ethnic narratives from the presumed “majority”. Understanding how to speak to, and uncover insights from an audience that began as majority White, and is now shifting into one of the most diverse mainstream audiences in history can be tricky, especially in an industry that mostly believes this audience to be monocultural.
Getting this right requires a theoretical uprooting of old frameworks and ways of working in order to make way for new, creative market research approaches aimed at truly capturing the nuance of the consumer experience.
WHY TRADITIONAL DE&I METHODS WON’T WORK
For most organizations seeking to rid themselves of bias and discriminatory practices, it is common to double down on hiring diverse talent. However, the BIPOC (Black, Indigeous and People of Color)-researcher-pipeline isn’t robust enough to fill all the data and consumer insights roles needed to get this right. The two factors leading this trend are 1)the general lack of awareness of our field in BIPOC communities, and 2)the fact that many senior BIPOC researchers transition to freelance roles, which effectively removes them from the marketplace.
This means that we have several years of work to do before the BIPOC- researcher-pipeline can be adequately filled and sustained. Until we can begin to fill these gaps there is an immediate need to begin course-correcting in the interim. Insights in Color is hoping that its new Diversity Sense-Check Tool is the answer for this gap in the industry.
A NEW TOOL TO IGNITE ACTION
After hearing from clients who weren’t sure of how to solve their own diversity and inclusion needs, IICs“Incite Action” Taskforce developed a new tool for researchers seeking immediate solutions for their projects and approaches.
The Sense-Check Tool is not meant to replace the very necessary BIPOC researchers and experts that are required to ensure accurate outputs. Instead, it is meant to be a first step for insights departments that may not be fully aware of the key questions, and probes they need to ask themselves to ensure representative results.
The assessment asks series of questions across 5 key research areas: The research topic and category, the sample/panel/recruitment plan, the methodology and approach, the diversity of the research team and, the diversity of the client team.
The questions are meant to help researchers “check the box” of key topics that should be top of mind for all projects meant to examine the new mainstream. The goal is to begin the work of ensuring that researchers and clients are always actively leaving their assumptions and biases at the door and working with the right BIPOC experts to ensure equitable research approaches.
One question from the assessment asks researchers if there is more than one BIPOC insights professional on the client or research team. Often, organizations believe that just one BIPOC member on staff will suffice, but diversity, identity and racial trauma are complex. How one identifies, and the causes they rally behind can not be assumed just because they are minorities.
A client or researchers’ ethnic background, cultural heritage, country of origin and level of cognitive dissonance to experiences of mistreatment due to race impacts how they understand, empathize with, or reject consumer narratives that may not match their own experiences. Because of this, it would be erroneous to assume that a non-white researcher automatically qualifies to be the spokesperson of all minority experiences in the US- it is, quite frankly, not possible. This is also why more than one BIPOC researcher should always be present for any commissioned work.
At the end of the survey a “diversity-score” and prognosis are provided as well as a corresponding page with key universal truths and customized opportunities to consider based on that score. The information is designed to provoke introspection while promoting necessary shifts in ways of working. Researchers scoring poorly on the assessment are recommended to receive a diversity consultation through the IIC platform.
AN INTERIM SOLUTION FOR A LONG TERM PROBLEM
Insights in Color doesn’t believe in participation awards when it comes to diversity and inclusion which is why its key pillars are rooted in radical disruption. Our goal is to permanently change the market research and insights industry from the inside out. This process, much like the construction of race, identity, and bias in America, will require some time to properly dismantle what we think we know in order to construct the right solutions moving forward.
IIC hopes that this tool, and other initiatives to come, can begin to be the necessary points of action that permanently change the industry for the better.
To learn more about Insights in Color, visit www.insightsincolor.com.