Inclusivity and Research aren’t Mutually Exclusive

6/5/2023   By: Hanson Lok

Inclusive Research – Why it Matters.

Inclusive research starts with one individual. As ironic as that sounds, inclusivity and equity in research often starts with one individual proactively taking the lead and championing best practices. Inclusivity, at its core, is the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. Here at Lux, our core values of Integrity and Curiosity push us to continuously re-examine our practices and evolve our ability to conduct inclusive research. We recognize that inclusive research is front-of-mind for businesses, but knowing where to start can be an endeavor of its own.

Eisha Sharda, a Research Manager and member of the Social Responsibility team here at Lux is a passionate advocate for inclusivity in research. Here, she shares some of our learnings and best practices from over the years when it comes to making research a more inclusive space.

When and Where?

Inclusivity and equity in research takes many forms and can be actioned at any point during a research initiative. Aside from creating a more inclusive space and enhancing participant experiences, it provides better data. Let’s focus on the design and data collection stages of a project.

  • Sampling: Visibility Matters. It’s hard to create what you’ve never seen, it’s hard to research people you’ve never met. The traditional research approach often breaks sampling into male and female – bypassing anyone that does not identify into these categories, unintentionally ignoring diverse communities. During research, we may avoid multicultural samples due to higher costs – resulting in misconceptions about the buying power and decision influence that these diverse communities hold. Thus, when conducting inclusive research, it is not only important to allow individuals of various identities to enter the research, but actively seek their perspectives and insights. Build these practices into your sampling approach and actively monitor their inclusion.
  • Question Design: While broadening sampling allows us to collect more inclusive responses, inclusivity can be embedded in the ways that we ask our questions and moderate activities. One way of doing this is to step outside the “check the box” type questions and allow participants to describe themselves (e.g., for gender, sexuality, etc.).– empowering a shift from fixed to fluid. By carefully examining research questions, inclusivity can be heightened by giving participants the space to express themselves as opposed to picking generalized options such as “prefer not to say” and “other”. Actively design profiling and demographic questions with fluidity in mind to better engage and understand participants.
  • Recruitment: During recruitment, consider creative ways to attract participants. Are you always pulling from panel samples that may include certain ethnicities more than others? Are there other incentives you can offer to appeal to diverse communities (e.g., donations or options to shop at minority-owned businesses)? Does your research platform allow diverse participants to enter (e.g., mobile friendly surveys) and is it designed with accessibility in mind to include all participants? While creating the space for diverse perspectives is important, ensuring their abilities to complete the research needs to be done in tandem. Take the time to review your research design from the perspective of someone with accessibility needs and manage recruitment accordingly.

The Path Ahead is a Long One.

Inclusivity and equity in research will not happen over night, but mindful changes big and small will take us closer to gathering broader representations, engaging truly diverse perspectives, and garnering better insights.

Eisha Sharda can be reached at eisha@luxinsights.com.