The government is increasingly imposing legislative and reporting demands around social issues that it expects the private sector to comply with in the normal course of doing business. Gender pay-gap reporting will shortly be followed by reporting on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) pay performance.

Gender pay-gap reporting has helpfully shone a light not only on pay outcomes, but also on the employment and recruitment practices that may – albeit unconsciously – contribute to pay bias.

In a similar vein, every data breach or misuse that gets reported, such as that of Cambridge Analytica, contributes to an erosion of trust in commercial and governmental use of our personal data. This has consequences, both in our sector, on participation rates, and in the myriad ways people protect their data (opting out, dirtying data, fake profiles and other techniques).

Increasingly, in consumers’ minds, there is little to distinguish between high-quality research programmes and perceived ‘data farming’ exploitation.

Ironically this sector has pioneered ethical approaches to handling sensitive personal data for years. The MRS Code of Conduct is more than 60 years old. MRS identified early the need for a customer data trust mark, to identify responsible use of personal data. Our pioneering idea Fair Data has now had its fourth successful international launch, in Australia.

Earlier this year, MRS launched the ‘ADA’ programme of support for data analysts, which includes training, networking and awards recognition. Many analysts and analytics business leaders have asked for more help in promoting ethical and regulatory best practice – which is why we will shortly launch not only an updated Code, but also specific guidance for analysts in how to apply it to their work.

MRS is doing so much to empower our sector for the future by helping re-establish the common ground that we call ‘trust’ – between the public and the data user, in public and private sector practice. I hope you welcome and support these initiatives.

Finally, we go to press too early to reflect the immediate soap opera that is Brexit preparations, so whatever the outcome – good luck.

You can stay up to date on the implications of Brexit on research via our website, which has a dedicated ‘Brexit hub’:


Get the latest MRS news

Our newsletters cover the latest MRS events, policy updates and research news.