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Putting inclusivity at MR's heart

By AQR In Brief

Colour of Research (CORe), a global community promoting diversity in research, is flying high. In Brief talks to co-founder Theo Francis about its evolution. So why isn't BAME helpful? Are carrots always better than sticks?

Could CORe have come together a year, or even six months ago?

It's true that the murder of George Floyd and the unprecedented reaction of big corporations openly speaking on the matter in the last few months has certainly helped to create a larger appetite for something like CORe. However, the issues we are trying to solve have been apparent, at least to us in the ethnic research community, for decades.

So yes, I believe something like CORe could have, and really should have, come together a long time ago and we are pushing so hard to put these initiatives in place because we feel we have a lot of catching up to do

Can you tell me how the team came together?

Our creation story is really quite organic. I came to the realisation that something like CORe was needed after attending a WIRe event and seeing the great work that they are doing for women in the industry. I heard Jane Frost, MRS CEO, mention that the next community they wanted help elevate was 'BAME'. I reached out immediately to ask how I could help and Jane responded very positively. She told me that they were struggling to pull together leaders for such a movement, though, and that she would let me know when there was any progress.

A few months later I came across a LinkedIn group created by Melissa Gonsalves (Differentology) titled 'BAME in Market Research'. In the description, she spoke of the lack of representation she had noticed attending the MRS Awards and called for us ethnic research professionals to connect and network via the group. I reached out to Melissa and invited every research professional of an ethnic background in my network to the group, one such person being Bob Quershi (iView).

Bob then approached me at Quirks and suggested we take this a step further. We decided to pull together a team of leaders to help us create an official organisation. We found that almost everyone we spoke to had already been having similar conversations, so it really took no convincing at all to get people on board.

The final team included Bob, Melissa and I, Natalie Samuels (Ipsos), Tatenda Musesengwa (Youth Sight), Charlene Adamah (Bilendi), Graham Idehen (Lucid) and Sia Najumi (One Global Translations). We had our first brainstorm via Zoom in early March just as the lockdown began and continued zoom meeting weekly as our goals and mission snowballed into what it is today, which is bigger than I think any of us expected it would be so soon.

The mission statement on your website is very clear: how much work was involved in getting it to this stage?

A lot of work has been put in thus far from everyone in the team and I do sometimes have to pinch myself when I see how much we have accomplished in such a short time. That being said, like flying a plane, taking off is the fun part. Putting together a website and announcing your grand plans is very easy. The real work comes in landing these initiatives.

I am happy with what we've accomplished in the last six months but I know that the next 60 are going to be infinitely more difficult and this is where my focus is.

Do you envisage it evolving over time?

It has to. To start with, our ambitious goals are going to require more man/woman power than us eight co-founders are able to provide so the organisation will need to grow dramatically.

I also expect that some of the initiatives will change over time as we see what works and what doesn't.

So, while our message will remain the same, I do expect our methods to evolve in many ways as time goes on

Is inclusivity equally problematical in