OPINION10 September 2020

Polling with a purpose

Charities Opinion UK

Research can make a positive impact in society as well as having a commercial purpose, says Kenny Imafidon. 

Pot of money growing plant

As researchers, we are blessed to have the privilege of being trusted by businesses, governments, charities, the media and people to gather insights that inform important decisions and strategies.

This does not mean that everything we share with our clients is always taken on board and acted upon. However, irrespective of this, the importance of our role in today’s fast changing and decision-fatigued society is undeniable. Our work can change the hearts and minds of decision-makers across all fields and industries.

I have been a researcher for almost a decade and what drew me to this profession was my fascination and curiosity about what people think, why they think what they think, and do what they do.

During this time, however, I have not seen a real shift in the diversity of people entering the profession or in senior roles. As an industry that serves a global and diverse population, we still look very white, very middle class and very male. If I could say it differently, we are still very male, pale and stale. This needs to change and I know that the Market Research Society and organisations like Colour of Research are actively trying to tackle this.

When I set up ClearView Research over five years ago with my co-founder, we wanted to take things a step further and ensure that the voices and opinions of those from underrepresented backgrounds are amplified and included in the conversation. Their opinions are equally as valuable as anyone else's. We have to stop with the lazy excuses that they are ‘just hard to reach’. We need to focus more on finding the most effective ways for us to adapt our organisations to positively engage and involve people in the research process, instead of easily excluding them and ‘othering’ them in our research samples.

We have been fortunate over the years to work on projects for the likes of NHS England, Starbucks, Tinder, the UK parliament, M&C Saatchi, King’s College University, Unicef UK and Vodafone Foundation. At the same time, we have kept our social mission: using research to empower those in society that are striving for social, racial and economic justice.

Recently, we began polling with a focus on people of colour, as people from non-white backgrounds are hardly represented in samples by polling companies and are heavily weighted when they do. This is something we are keen to change, and in the background, we have been building a diverse database of people who do not usually engage in research.

We also decided to make the step into polling as we saw an opportunity to use research as a platform for charitable fundraising that enables us to achieve both our commercial and social purpose and a positive impact in society. We were recently commissioned by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to support its aim to better understand the views, attitudes and perceptions of people from black community, in relation to their human rights. Given that there is no evidence base to answer the questions that the committee wanted to ask, this research is the first of its kind in the UK.

Some of the key findings from the research were:

  • Over 75% of black people do not agree that their human rights are equally protected compared to white people in the UK
  • 60% do not believe their health is as equally protected by the NHS, compared to white people
  • 85% do not believe that they would be treated the same as a white person by the police.

To achieve our representative sample size, we utilised our existing database which has thousands of people from the black community, who have taken part in our other research studies. We also worked closely with our local partner organisations to support us with poll recruitment.

What made this poll different was that we also gave participants the opportunity to donate the amount they would have earned for taking part to the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation instead. Over 65% of participants donated and we were able to raise £1585 for the foundation. We 100% match-funded this donation and then donated £3170 to the charity.

We hope to do this more often and partner with other charities. We also hope that this inspires other agencies to look at how they can do the same and use their platforms as vehicles to help fundraise for important causes.

Kenny Imafidon is managing director and co-founder at ClearView Research