Earlier this month, leaders in the market research space convened in Edinburgh for the annual ESOMAR Congress, a three-day conference packed with insights. First, we must address the spectacular location. Scotland is a land full of history and character, and we enjoyed a little bit of its capital city during some sunny days. Everyone we spoke with has now fallen in love, just a bit, with Edinburgh.

Once the conference began, it was nonstop sessions and networking events. The agenda was full of interesting case studies, research projects and new technology approaches that could very well be poised to change the face  of the industry. Some presentations that stood out to our team included a keynote by Claire Lomas, a British campaigner, fundraiser and former event rider, who shared her inspirational story of how she rose above extremely difficult circumstances to test her limits. Another intriguing session was Ennio Armota’s talk on surveys that are enabled by “Personal Assistants,” such as Amazon’s Alexa, and what it means for  the future of market research.

The highlight of the conference, for us, was the annual Women in Research (WIRe) luncheon. One of our favorite industry organizations, we’re always excited to support its initiatives that help to advance the contributions and voice of women in research, both for themselves and for the greater good of the industry. At the luncheon, our CRO J.D. Deitch, presented WIRe’s annual “Best Places to Work” awards to Opinium Research and  Breaking Blue.  

Following the awards ceremony, J.D. participated in a panel chaired by Kristin Luck, founder of WIRe, along with panel members Liz Norman, CEO of Elizabeth Norman International and Begona Fafian, Knowledge and Insights Director at Coca-Cola Western Europe. Panel members covered what to look for in a workplace to nurture careers and opportunities, as well as covering the topics that came up in J.D.’s newest paper “Women Executives in Market Research.” 

During the discussion, an audible gasp went around the room when Liz Norman and Kristin Luck disagreed with each other about women’s desire to be on boards. This discussion brought an important issue to the foreground: treating women as a homogenous group is as bad as failing to promote them or ignoring them altogether. Each individual has different goals and aspirations. J.D. and Begona quickly chimed in to clarify their own thoughts on the matter. We encourage you to check out a video of the lively discussion – disagreements and all.

View the Discussion Here

One key takeaway from the panel was that winning at diversity is a multifaceted issue, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The bottom line is that companies in market research need to take meaningful action when it comes to opening up doors and creating opportunities for women. As indicated in J.D.’s paper “These actions must include mechanisms for public accountability such as setting measurable goals, making internal and external public statements about gender diversity, and training and engaging employees on the matter. Failing that, the industry will continue to be long on talk and short on results.” 

This important discussion about diversity, coupled with inspiring conference sessions and presentations that encouraged us to look at market research with a new lens, made for a great event. It was wonderful to convene in a beautiful city with our clients, colleagues and friends from all around the globe at this year’s ESOMAR Congress. See you in 2020!

Photo by Emran Yousof on Unsplash