FEATURE6 March 2020

IWD and the CEO Pledge

Features Trends UK

With International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8th March, two more industry leaders have signed up to the Market Research Society’s CEO Pledge, taking the total signed up to 25 organisations committed to diversity and opportunity for all in the workplace.

Michael Simmonds, chief executive of Populus, and Kenny Imafidon, co-founder and managing director of ClearView Research, are the two new names to join the call to action established by Jane Frost, CEO of MRS, for those working in the market research sector.

The MRS CEO Pledge calls on leaders in our industry to sign up to a five point ‘manifesto for opportunity’ to commit to being representative and to creating an environment where the only barriers to progress are personal choice and professional competence.

The five points are:

  1. publish pay statistics annually and demonstrate clear, sustained progress towards gender and BAME pay parity
  2. work towards ensuring all our staff­ are fully representative of the diversity of the UK
  3. work towards achievement of government targets on inclusion of women and BAME people at executive committee and board level
  4. improve recruitment of a representative intake with initiatives such as ending unpaid internships and supporting school and university and apprenticeship programmes
  5. create safe places to work for all, committing to: #timeTo Code of Conduct; a proactive culture that supports whistle-blowing; train staff­ to recognise and create systems to support those who need help for stress or mental health issues.

Thoughts from those who have signed the pledge:

Kenny Imafidon: The importance of the CEO pledge cannot be understated. As a sector offering crucial insights and evidence to decision-makers across all sectors around the world, it is vital that our organisations represent the diverse reality (as much as possible) that our clients seek to understand. More importantly, we have a moral duty to the rest of society to ensure that we are part of the solution, and not the problem in relation to barriers faced by underrepresented and marginalised groups in society to fulfil their potential.

Alison Camps deputy chairman of Quadrangle: Power is not shared equally in business, which is why 45 years after the Equal Pay Act, for every hour they work, women still earn just 81p of every pound earned by men. In our own industry, we employ more women than men and yet more men hold leadership positions than women. We need to change that, which is why I am pleased to support the MRS’ Manifesto for Opportunity.

James Endersby CEO of Opinium: Celebrating the economic, political, social and cultural achievements of women shouldn’t be reserved for just one day a year, but today is certainly both a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the progress made so far, and to continue to demand more.

Guy Goodwin CEO National Centre for Social Research: At NatCen we share in IWD 2020’s mission to help forge a gender equal world. Our mission is to understand the complexity of people’s lives and attitudes, and this is best achieved with a research sector that’s representative of the people it serves. The pledges we made through the MRS Manifesto for Opportunity embody our ongoing commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive research community.

Roger Perowne CEO Savanta: Savanta owes so much of its success to the brilliant women at the heart of our business. I am very proud to be a founder signatory of the MRS Manifesto for Opportunity, and particularly on International Women’s Day. I hope my daughter will grow up in a world where gender bias is behind us, where pay equality is always the norm, and where workplaces are designed to allow us all to fully contribute. I am committed to ensuring Savanta lives up to these standards, now and always.

Dr Cris Tarrant CEO BVA BDRC Group: If you want to have success in business it’s pretty obvious really that enabling everyone in your organisation to achieve their potential is going to be a good thing. It follows from this that an equal workplace makes for an enabled workplace. #EachforEqual.

Jem Fawcus chief executive Firefish: Our industry plays a key role in representing the views of people – all people, and as such the industry should reflect the society it serves. While we have all made good strides towards inclusion and championing diversity, there is still much work to do, which is why I am keen to support the MRS’s initiative.

Kirsty Fuller CEO Big Sofa: For me successful business-building always involves finding, employing, inspiring and retaining the people who can take a business forward and create a rich, fulfilling working culture. Diverse perspectives, backgrounds, educational journeys, ethnicities, gender and sexual orientation are all part of that magical mix. The commitment to inclusion is not a ‘nice to have'. It is fast becoming an imperative for success.

Steve Phillips CEO Zappi: As researchers, we spend our time analysing the lives of an incredibly diverse base of global consumers. We cannot effectively serve those consumers if we are all coming from the same place. It’s imperative that the insights community reflects the same level of diversity as the consumers we seek to understand.

Matthew Sell COO Northstar Research Partners: The active promotion of a more diverse and inclusive work environment is both an opportunity we share and a responsibility we carry. While the concept appears simple in theory, our ability to follow though appropriately must also take into account the ups and downs of the corporate reality. The Manifesto for Opportunity is playing a crucial part in helping our management group maintain its focus on workplace opportunity at Northstar. It motivates us to achieve more and do better.

Jan Shury managing director IFF Research: With a strong belief that it’s people who add real value to our clients, ensuring diverse thinking isn’t just a nice to have, it’s business critical. Inclusion initiatives like A Manifesto For Opportunity play an important role in ensuring equitable and inclusive systems are adopted; providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive working environment for all – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or age.

Amy Cashman co-CEO insights division Kantar: Generating brilliant insights is rooted in a deep understanding of human behaviour. Without diversity in our industry we risk missing key insights that a wider set of views and experiences would uncover.

Caroline Frankum global CEO Kantar profiles division: This manifesto isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s also imperative for business growth. Consumers have become more empowered and discerning when it comes to sharing their time and data, clients want representative insights at unprecedented speed and scale, yet third-party cookies crumbling make first-party data increasingly valuable, but harder to reach consumers using data. This perfect storm of dichotomies requires a transformative approach to connecting with people at the right time, in the right way and often at unprecedented scale. So, while being tech-enabled is key to staying relevant, it’s also critical to remember that diversity of thinking and empathy are key to connecting with today’s consumers in authentic ways.