How to Enhance Your Organization’s Research and Make it More Inclusive

To improve the market and product research your organization does, it is important to make the process more inclusive and make sure you’re interviewing a wide range of diverse types of people, industry experts said Nov. 10, during the Customer Experience breakout session “Design for Inclusion” that was part of the virtual SoCal Women’s Leadership Summit.

Unfortunately, “accessibility is generally framed as sort of an add-on in a world that designed sidewalks first and then added accessibility – ramps – after the fact and after a lot of lawsuits and attention,” according to Eli Robinson, head of UX at FOLX Health, a healthcare firm focused on the LGBTQ+ community.

Moderator Bernadette Irizarry, principal at Velvet Hammer Design, asked how can organizations do research right?

“I think you can only try,” responded Kellie Hodge, principal design researcher at research and design firm Sutherland Labs, who noted she has a background in social sciences and came into design research via financial services including fintech. She was “always trying to figure out how to merge technology, finance and human insight, and here I am,” she pointed out.

When it comes to the “low-hanging fruit, there’s a lot of things you can do,” Hodge said. “A big difference would be made if we did, let’s say, an annual audit of our research screeners and our sampling criteria. Take a look at the statistics. Speak to a couple of experts. Look at who your population should be and look at who you’re actually speaking to,” she suggested.

Also check the occupations of those you are talking to for your study, she recommended. Do they all have desk jobs?

“Look for those flags that you’re kind of skewing off and then reorient your studies in the next sort of cycle to be more inclusive,” she suggested.

“Another thing that’s really important – and I think this is where leadership can play a huge role – is [to] create the demand for recruiters to serve more inclusive recruiting,” Hodge said.

The marketing research/recruiting industry “can play a really important role in this [and] I don’t think we can make significant change without them. But they need to see the demand there to act,” according to Hodge.

“Reaching some populations is really hard,” she went on to say. Costs can be higher to reach certain populations for a while and a decision maybe should be made to “absorb this because it’s important,” she added.

It is also important to “build an alliance” with those who have “strong quantitative, analytic voices in your product practice,” according to Hodge.

One of the strategies that Robinson said she uses is to talk a lot about things that the study is not focused on when interviewing people for a study.

Hodge went on to recommend getting feedback from people you’re interviewing to make certain you’re interpreting what they’re saying accurately. Also important: Leaving the door open to interview them briefly again by asking if you can check back with them later. “I’ve never had somebody say no to that,” she noted.

And when it comes to the research team, “it’s really important to create space for everyone on the team to be able to reach their conclusions and then share them,” Hodge told viewers.