Marion Elliott of the Schlesinger Group, and the lead on Women In Research’s “WIRe in Color” initiative, talks with us about her work in ResTech, as well as her commitment to representativity across the industry.
On our podcast, we were joined by Marion Elliott, Director of Client Solutions at the Schlesinger Group. Since 2018, she has served as the lead on WIRe’s WIRe in Color initiative, which seeks to strengthen the connections among—and raise the visibility of—women of color in the market research industry.
Marion shared with us the work that WIRe in Color is doing – the leadership and mentor programs that are helping people to find their place and their belonging in the industry. During our discussion, we covered a lot of other ground as well: performative diversity; Marion's work in the ResTech space; and how far we've come (and still have to go) with equality, inclusivity and diversity.
WIRe in Color
The percentage of women of color in the C-suite is very low. Women in Research has always been known for networking, and the WIRe in Color initiative creates a space for women of color to come together and be heard. “Sometimes we don’t know that we’re here in this industry,” shares Marion, “It’s very important to know that we have similar stories that we can share…and it’s very important to me to be a catalyst in that change.”
Avoiding performative diversity
One trap that organizations can fall into is initiating DEI activity, but not investing in maintaining or scaling it. For example, a company may hire someone yet not put in place the adequate support to ensure that person not only survives but thrives in the role.
Diversity without inclusion or equity is “fruitless,” says Marion. Companies really have to be intentional about what they mean by DEI. Do they want people of color to flourish? Marion shares, “Studies have shown that when you have a diverse, culturally-accepting and inclusive company, your profits go up!”
Numbers don’t lie, and companies that don’t engage in diversity will get left behind. “The most successful companies keep up with the speed of business…and they’re open to change.” Clients want to know that they are working with forward-thinking companies and thought leaders. Marion asks, “If you’re a company that’s not with the times, are you really a thought leader?”
ResTech (Research technology)
An avid follower of the latest trends and innovations, Marion likes to offer her clients “the latest and greatest.” There’s always a new solution, and Marion is fond of options that allow you to house all your different market research platforms together in one place. “You have to be able to give a quick turnaround with seamless solutions, and never forget the human factor.”
How far we've come
The insights industry has become a lot more diverse, with discussions opening up and continuing the important conversations around DEI. Many people in the industry are now doing “the work” and that is creating a huge change. Insights in Color is an example of an organization that talks about best practices when it comes to screening participants and hiring people of color in the industry. The Insights Association is a partner with WIRe, and their IDEA Council (see our podcast with them here) works together with the WIRe in Color initiative. “We are all of the same mind that we want to make the industry better, inclusive, and equitable,” says Marion.
Want to get involved? Marion says to visit the WIRe in Color website to learn about programming, mentorships and joining the Slack channel.