Brands are under increased scrutiny for their business practices, as consumers seek to interact with organisations that reflect their own values and priorities. Whether it is sustainability or championing a specific cause, people want to support brands that are purpose-driven. Driven in part by this consumer demand, the ecosystem in which we do business is changing, setting a higher standard and becoming more transparent.
Market research has not escaped this trend. As the voice of the consumer, we have a responsibility to ensure a wide number of standards are met to ensure representativity and more. More companies in our space are making significant strides toward better practices, from diversity and inclusion initiatives to better treatment of individuals participating in research projects, all the way to a more focused sensibility toward the way we do business in general. However, we have yet to discover a “roadmap” for fulfilling many of these objectives.
What we can learn from B Corp standards
A body of business committed to improving standards throughout the ecosystem in which they play is certified B Corporations. B Corps “form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good.” Specifically, they address a wide range of critical issues that affect the greater good, including sustainability, equity, community, and dignity of all. In order to become certified, businesses must meet high standards surrounding the building of a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
We can take this ethos and apply it to the market research industry. Already our space is making strides to improve in key areas such as: Being the change that “we seek in the world”; conducting business by prioritising people; employing business practices that benefit everyone, and acting with an understanding of the interdependency of people and responsibility toward all.
If we break these points down, it’s not hard to see how these guidelines are uniquely applicable to the market research industry.
- Be the change that we seek in the world: Our influence should not be underestimated. Businesses use the data we generate to make decisions, large and small. These add up. If consumer insights show that people want diversity and inclusion to be prioritized, this could lead an organization to implement initiatives that support this – from inclusive hiring practices all the way to advertising and communications that illustrate diversity. These can add up to big change, no matter the issue or challenge at hand. We can amplify the voice of the people.
- Conduct business by prioritising people: Any good business needs to treat its employees and customers with dignity and respect. In our industry, we also need to look at how we treat respondents. We need to start with the basics: give people control over their own data by letting people choose when, where, and how they will share it; prioritize privacy and build trust to encourage sharing; and reward people fairly for their valuable data. We must start to move the needle on respondent experience and treatment before we can truly claim to “prioritize people”.
- Employ business practices that benefit everyone: Yes, we provide insights to brands, businesses, and organisations all around the world and we must make sure that these are accurate and representative for decision making. But what about the practices in our own organizations? We must champion the causes that matter to our own businesses, authentically. If diversity is a goal, come up with a formal program that will ensure this happens. If sustainability is a goal, implement environmentally-friendly practices that will reduce impact. If providing better work-life balance for employees is important, then make sure you offer flexibility and support where it is needed.
- Act with an understanding of the interdependency of people and responsibility toward all: If we’ve learned nothing else from being in this industry, it’s that nothing good happens in a vacuum. As I mentioned above, we have a distinct responsibility as the voice of the consumer. There is so much depending on these insights that can affect the greater good, not just how brands develop and advertise their products, but far beyond into the philanthropic and charitable sectors’ development and distribution of resources. If you think about the industry holistically, the influence is far-reaching and we need to make sure the impact is accurate and progressive – based on quality data.
As researchers, we can take inspiration from B Corps beliefs. Ethically we have a responsibility to ensure that each stage of our work is conducted under the highest standards. We can use the premises on which B Corps are examined and certified as a foundation for decision-making as we move toward a more responsible future. Only then can we provide the best insight to our stakeholders.
The post A model for change: What market research can learn from B Corps first appeared on GreenBook.