International Women’s Day: Insight leaders on how businesses can #EmbraceEquity in 2023

6 March 2023 | 5 min read | Written by Kelvin Claveria

March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD), a global celebration of the achievements and impact of women in the social, political, cultural, and business spheres. For 2023, the theme of IWD is Embrace Equity—a call to make gender equity be a “part of every society’s DNA.”

IWD is particularly important to the market research and insights space because women make up majority of the market research industry. According to “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Insights Profession,” a 2022 report from Insights Association, 64% of full-time market research analysts and marketing specialists identify as female—far more than the 47% average in the total U.S. workforce.

Alarmingly though, the same report found that while females occupy 60% of individual contributor roles in our industry, they hold only 52% of director, executive and C-suite roles. On industry boards, that number plunges to 35%.

As Insights Association notes: 

The percent of Females falls dramatically as salaries increase, with nearly 80% of those earning $300k or more being Male.

So, clearly the insights industry still has work to do in gender equity. What can businesses do about it? To find out, I’ve reached out to some amazing women in research to share their perspective.

Be on the look out for inequities, call them out, and suggest solutions

Priscilla McKinney - Liltte Bird Marketing“There is still a big reason for calling out systemic inequities where we see it. Leadership in this way is not a looking around and ‘gotcha’ kind of pressuring people, but an intentional look at things we do, things we participate in and systems we benefit from to constantly evaluate what we're not seeing and have grown complacent with.  

The beginning of all meaningful work in gender equality starts with ourselves. Ask if what you are doing is equitable. Check if where you are spending your money is operating equitably. Be willing to hold others accountable for inequities and be a part of suggesting a way forward instead of just calling out the problem." 
- Priscilla McKinney, CEO, Little Bird Marketing

Make gender equity an ongoing effort

Rachel Harris Pruitt - Target“For business leaders to truly embrace and drive equity, it needs to continually be top of mind through all aspects of business—recruiting, onboarding, whose voices and ideas are being heard in meetings, mentorship, who is being promoted, pay, etc. This requires daily conscious effort because our privileges are often those things that don't even cross our minds.  

Keeping our privileges top of mind every day can help business leaders more easily spot where inequities exist and drive change. Business leaders need to feel personal accountability for driving equity, not only because it will lead to better business results, but also (and more importantly) because it's the right thing to do."
-Rachel Harris Pruitt, Director, Enterprise Insights Capabilities, Target

Consider the unique needs of women of color

Alice Lin - Earths Own Food CompanyWomen of colour are roughly 12% of Canada’s population yet take up a significantly smaller fraction of executive roles. We can do better.

To start, businesses can take stock of the percentage of women (and especially BIPOC women) in the company and in leadership positions. Set concrete % equity goals and share them transparently. 

I'd like to see DEI training integrated more tightly into HR policies, not only as a one-time session but ongoing refreshers. Keeping awareness of bias and inequality top of mind would more likely lead to progressive actions. Bonus: have a DEI counsel review job postings to be more beneficial for everyone.

It’s important to not fall into tokenism. One woman on a team doesn’t represent all women. Invest in personal and individualized professional growth for the employee while also asking for their feedback on your leadership and the company’s diversity and inclusion policies. 

Finally, we have to ensure equitable pay for BIPOC women. Statistics Canada recently found that racialized women with university degrees earn less than non-racialized women. Review employee salaries and close the gaps.”
- Alice Lin, Strategy & Insights Manager, Earth’s Own Food Company

Offer benefits that help with work-life balance

Nicole Mixson-Perez - TE Connectivity“Gender equity in the workplace is an important way for companies to show employees that efforts around inclusion and diversity are more than just lip service. While some companies (including TE Connectivity) have made headway by offering additional benefits like remote work and extended paid time off for maternity leave, this only touches the tip of the iceberg when it comes to balancing caretaking responsibilities that still largely fall on women. 

Too many women still have to make concessions professionally to ensure their children have adequate daily childcare or backup care when they are sick. Offering paid childcare and dedicated family sick days off are just some examples of how businesses can do more to really show they support gender equity."
- Nicole Mixson-Perez, Manager, Global Experience Research, TE Connectivity

Karine Pepin - 2CV“Our industry can be challenging, with long hours, travel, and tight deadlines, which can be especially difficult for women in terms of work-life balance.

We need to continue offering flexible hours, remote work and most importantly moral support during the crazy times! A supportive environment will go a long way in helping to achieve gender equity in the workplace. It's not just about implementing programs or initiatives, but also about creating a culture where all employees feel valued, respected, and supported.”
- Karine Pepin, Senior Vice President, 2CV

Formalize programs and training

Leigh Admirand - Reach3 Insights“Gender equality at work means that all people share equal opportunities and benefits. It starts with setting values and policies (hiring, competency assessment, raises), and training all team members to ensure fair practices. Allowing for flexibility, for all employees, such as parental leave, caregiving, wellness, etc., is also important in empowering everyone to succeed and advance.

Formalized DEI programs, consistent mentorship, staff reviews and comp assessment are ongoing challenges. The good news is that awareness and demand for gender equity is high, especially with younger cohorts coming into the insights business. At Rival Group, our business leaders have accepted this need and are actively working towards this goal.”
- Leigh Admirand, Executive Vice President and Founding Partner, Reach3 Insights

Provide equal opportunity

Dara St. Louis - Reach3 Insights and Rival Technologies“The insights space has some fantastic female leaders that are driving us forward. While our industry is doing a good job embracing equity, we can certainly do more.

At the end of the day, equity is all about making sure there’s an even-playing field to have access to the same opportunities, whether that’s for resources, additional pay or advancement. It’s about making sure that we give everyone a fair shot at succeeding and accomplishing what they set out to do.”
Dara St. Louis, Executive Vice President and Founding Partner, Reach3 Insights

More resources for gender equity

A big thank you to these amazing women researchers for sharing their thoughts on gender equity.

For more information, including resources on how to improve gender equity, visit the International Women’s Day website.

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Written by Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria (@kcclaveria) is Director of Demand Generation at Rival Technologies.

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