Clifford Lewis, PhD (he/him/his) is a marketing academic at Australia’s Charles Sturt University. His research focuses on Place Marketing; exploring LGBTQIA+ inclusion both within one’s community or a recreational context. Within this field, he has drawn on socio-psychological theories to explore how places and experiences can be made more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ people. Through his work he has called for a more nuanced and sensitive approach to research which considers the diversity encapsulated under the LGBTQIA+ acronym. Aligning with his belief that academic research should contribute to the betterment of society, he is passionate about using research to make the world more inclusive. Prior to his academic career, he was the Head of State (NSW) for a global market research company.

I wish someone had told me at the beginning of my career to be myself – quirks and all. As I have gotten older, I have realised the value of being myself and not a version of who I think I should be. Working in a place that accepts you for being yourself and hanging with people who are cool with you being yourself is important and allows you to bring your best authentic self to everything you do, and makes it a lot of fun. It takes far more energy to be a version of yourself.

I most admire people who have the courage to be themselves, stand up for their beliefs, and stand up for others in difficult situations. It can be hard to hold onto what you believe when the world tells you otherwise… but without conviction nothing will change.

A future-fit research world looks like one that goes beyond ‘traditional’ research approaches to tell stories of people as opposed to data points. Oh, and (personally) one where we find a better approach than the NPS.

Cliché I know, but my resilience tip for when times get tough is to think about why you started. Tough situations are just a way to level up. Think about why you started and you’ll know if you should continue or find another opportunity. HOWEVER, there is also no shame in walking away IF it is not for you anymore - but leave for the right reasons.

The most amazing or memorable experience I’ve had whilst conducting research was talking to the mum of a teenage lesbian in rural Australia who was telling me about the challenges her daughter faced in school. I remember thinking how brave that girl was for being herself despite being challenged.

To me, great leadership looks like someone who is not afraid to stand-up for those who cannot. Too often at work, and also in life, it can be hard to stand up for yourself. Great leaders do the work for you.

The main challenge in building a more inclusive world is education and economic disparity. We of course need more visibility and more conversations to break down barriers, but as long as there is something to be gained, financially or socially, from the us vs them mindset, we cannot move beyond it.

If I wasn’t doing this, I would be a medical doctor. I have always been fascinated by the human body and the pandemic has shown us who the real heroes of the 21st century are!

Cliff will be discussing his work at MRSpride’s virtual event on 27 January. Register for free here. MRS Certified members and Fellows can red Cliff’s IJMR paper Considerations for conducting sensitive research with LGBTQIA+ communities here.


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