A new report by MRS (Market Research Society), Kantar, Zappi and Judith Staig has found significant progress in the sector in how researchers evaluate their places of work when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion. Particularly promising improvements have been made in the proportion of people in the sector who feel women and members of minority ethnic groups are supported and represented, that ED&I is taken seriously and that managers are fair.

Equality, diversity and inclusion in the market research sector 2022 report

The majority of those who took part in the survey (61 percent) have heard of at least one MRS EDI activity, whether it’s the MRS Inclusion Pledge, MRSPride, support for Colour of Research (CORe) network, the Market Research Apprenticeships Trailblazer programme or the MRBA Bursaries for professional training.  That proportion has more than doubled since 2020 when 30 percent of participants had heard of the MRS EDI programme.

The increased awareness of inclusion issues and activities reflects the ongoing work of research sector businesses and leaders over recent years to create more supportive, flexible and inclusive working cultures.  This includes the more than 90 organisations which have signed the MRS Inclusion Pledge and committed to taking practical action to improve diversity and inclusion within their organisations.

However, the report also highlights where there is more work to be done to create a truly inclusive and representative research sector.  Key areas for development include improving support for carers and those with health or mental health conditions, disability or neurodiversity, tackling age discrimination and the gender pay-gap, and boosting representation.

Other key findings from Equality, diversity and inclusion in the market research sector 2022 report, include:

  • 70 percent of participants believe their company actively supports women and employees from diverse minority groups (up from 57 percent in 2020).
  • 92 percent of those surveyed reported having the opportunities and resources to work flexibly, an increase of six percentage points compared with 2020.
  • 52 percent of those in protected groups – demographics with specific legal protection against employment discrimination due to characteristics including gender, sexuality, race and disability – do not believe that everyone in the research sector has the same opportunities to progress.
  • Younger people continue to be more likely to have heard of MRS ED&I activities (62 percent of 16-34-year-olds versus 55 percent of over 55s) and to act as an ally to protected groups (72 percent among those aged 16-34 compared with 47 percent of those over 55).
  • However, the results also identify an issue around age discrimination with nine percent of those aged over 55 reportedly having experienced stereotyping or demeaning language – more than twice the proportion of those aged between 16 and 34 who have experienced similar treatment.

Jane Frost CBE, CEO of MRS, comments: “This important research shows that our sector is making real progress and that’s something everyone should be pleased about.  In particular, the staff members at the over 90 companies that have signed up to the MRS Inclusion Pledge should be proud.  However, Rome wasn’t built in a day and more still needs to be done for greater inclusivity and better representation in our industry. 

“As I know, and all decision-makers should know, the most impactful decisions are based on well-evidenced insights and that’s exactly what this report from Kantar, Zappi and Judith Staig provides.  It gives us awareness and understanding of the nature of the problems faced, setting the priorities for the MRS EDI Council so it can continue to foster change.  I urge everyone in our sector to read this report and, if they’re not already signed up, urge their CEO to commit to the MRS Inclusion Pledge.”

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