NEWS17 March 2022

Market research urged to take lead on DE&I

Impact 2022 Inclusion News UK

UK – The market research sector should “jump in a speedboat” and take a lead on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), according to a panel of insights professionals, who have called for degree qualification requirements for jobs to be scrapped.

Differently coloured figurines around the globe representing the concept of diversity

Taking place on the first day of the MRS Impact conference 2022, a panel discussed the state of DE&I in market research and the way forward.

The topic was considered in light of a Global Research Business Network (GRBN) survey showing that as many 30% of market research employees believe there aren’t equal opportunities in the sector, with disability and age holding people back.

The panel featured Charlene Adamah, director at Schlesinger Group Europe; Steven Lacey, MD, The Outsiders; Franklin Nyatsambo, senior consultant, Lucid; Dyna Boen, MD, Escalent and Keyona Osborne-Pannell, senior insights analyst at Escalent and DE&I Council co-chair.

Osborne-Pannell said it didn’t make sense to her why the market research industry was not leading on DE&I, saying it was a “no-brainer”.

She said: “To me, it’s just common sense that the market research industry be in the lead in this space. “We have the data, we do the interviews, and we practice empathy on a daily basis. So it really doesn’t make sense to me why we are not leading in all of the numbers.”

“It’s time for us to jump in a speedboat and be way ahead of whoever is in the speed boat out front and make sure there is representation inside the market research industry so that we can make sure that we are representative of the people that we’re conducting research on. It seems like a no-brainer.”

Lacey likened the industry to once being like a DE&I tanker, but said it was now more like a ferry. “We are moving a little bit faster, but maybe not fast enough.” He said change was afoot in the industry, driven by clients and younger people but he still wanted to see more barriers “stripped down”.

Anecdotally, he said that sometimes he would feel like an outsider in his own industry, as he didn’t feel he had the right attributes, like the right conversation.

Several panel members called on requirements for job applicants to hold certain degrees for certain roles to be scrapped. On this subject, Adamah said the industry was still guilty of recruiting individuals who mirrored themselves.

Nyatsambo, who has worked in the industry for over three years, said he was slowly seeing change, pointing out he was seeing more people of colour and younger people at industry events. He added that as he became more senior in his workplace, he became more vocal on diversity issues.

Nyatsambo also noted that potential employees without a degree might be hungrier than those with a degree, as they might have something to prove. He said he believed that the industry might be missing out on a large swathe of talent by not being active at university open days and reaching out to schools.

Boen, meanwhile, said DE&I starts in an individual’s “own backyard” and to elicit change in others, an individual had to change first.

On other changes the panel would like to see, Lacey he would like to see less ‘groupthink’. “I think the danger with DE&I is people go, they listen a little bit and then say, ‘well it’s not my job, it’s just a DE&I person’s job’. And it’s not, it’s everyone’s job.”