Why Partnering with DEI Consultants Can Drive Meaningful Change in Your Organization

Regardless of size, many organizations struggle to implement effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. This challenge can be incredibly daunting for smaller organizations that may not have a dedicated HR department or the necessary expertise in this area. Working with DEI consultants can help these organizations overcome these obstacles.

DEI consultants have specialized knowledge and experience in a wide range of areas, particularly in talent acquisition, training and development, policy creation, and culture change. By leveraging their expertise, organizations get guidance in creating and implementing DEI initiatives that will help them reach their goals.

However, organizations need not be DEI experts to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Rather than trying to navigate this complex and ever-evolving field independently, organizations can serve as a conduit for DEI expertise to enter their workplace by utilizing consultants.

On this episode of The New Mainstreet podcast, Ali Sheehan Mignone, Head of People, Diversity, and Inclusion at Theatre Projects, discuss how outsourcing DEI can help small teams improve their workplace culture and diversity initiatives.

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The Ethics of Zero-Party Data: Balancing Consumer Privacy and Business Needs

Businesses are increasingly relying on consumer data to succeed in today's digital age. Growing demand for personalized marketing has led companies to explore different types of data to gain insights into their customers' preferences and behaviors. One type of data that has been gaining traction in recent years is zero-party data, particularly among advertisers.

In exploring the use of zero-party data within their DSPs, digital media buyers must consider the ethics of collecting and using this data while balancing consumer privacy concerns.

Zero-Party Data: Definition and Significance

Zero-party data is information consumers intentionally and proactively share with a business, including preferences, interests, and other personal data, unlike first-party data that companies collect. Consumers are increasingly concerned about privacy and are demanding more control over their data, making zero-party data attractive, especially when incentivized.

However, using zero-party data raises ethical questions about how businesses collect, store, and use this data. Digital media buyers must consider the ethical implications and design systems that protect consumer rights and privacy.

Ethics Concerns with Zero-Party Data

Ethics are crucial in collecting and using zero-party data as it helps mitigate concerns and ensures responsible data practices. One key concern is around obtaining consumer consent, as individuals should have the freedom to choose whether to share their data with businesses. Companies must be transparent about the data they collect and how it will be used and provide clear options for consumers to opt-out or revoke consent at any time. Another important ethical consideration is protecting consumer data, as businesses must implement proper security measures to prevent data breaches and misuse.

Despite these concerns, zero-party data is more ethical than other data types, as consumers agree to share their data, ensuring it is obtained through transparent and ethical means.

Zero-party data also complies with GDPR and CCPA regulations, which protect consumer privacy and ensure that businesses are transparent about their data collection and use. This makes zero-party data a more ethical option for companies seeking to optimize their marketing and advertising efforts while prioritizing ethical considerations.

A Balancing Act

Using zero-party data responsibly and ethically is essential for digital media buyers seeking to incorporate this data into their DSPs. Businesses must balance their needs with consumer privacy and prioritize transparency in data collection and use.

More specifically, digital media buyers must take ethical considerations into account, implement proper security measures to safeguard consumer data, and ensure compliance with GDPR and CCPA regulations to effectively leverage the benefits of zero-party data while prioritizing the consumer experience. When done well, it's a win-win.

This blog post was originally published on MediaPost.

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The End of COVID-era SNAP Benefits is Impacting Vulnerable Communities

What’s Happening?

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress added emergency funds to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help families facing food insecurity resulting from the economic slowdown. That emergency funding ran out at the end of February 2023. This means that around 30 million Americans will receive less money in their EBT cards at a time when inflation is wreaking havoc on food prices. The end of enhanced SNAP benefits is compounded by the concurrent end of other relief programs that helped with housing and healthcare costs.

Who’s Affected?

Some states had already stopped the enhanced COVID benefits, but SNAP recipients in 32 states, Washington D.C., Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands will see their benefits reduced this month. The enhanced benefits gave participants the maximum allowable benefit if they qualified for SNAP. The change will bring participants back to amounts tied to household income and will average about $6 per day per person. The steepest decrease will hit individuals who, during COVID, qualified for the minimum SNAP benefit and were receiving $281 per month and will now only see a benefit of $23. Since the reductions are per person in the household, larger households will see bigger overall reductions. Seniors on Social Security may be surprised to learn that the recent 8.7% cost of living increase counts towards their SNAP eligibility and reduces benefits further. Sixty-five percent of SNAP participants are households with children and one in three food stamp households is headed by an African American. The reduction will, therefore, be disproportionately felt in low-income communities of color.

Lack of Information

While the Biden administration is scheduled to declare the end of the COVID pandemic on May 11, 2023, the SNAP program expired on February 28th because Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act which revamped that program. Many recipients, however, are unaware of, or don’t understand, the changes they’ll see in their March benefits. The different deadlines for the end of COVID era benefits add to the confusion. This will likely lead to families being caught off-guard by the reductions, leaving them scrambling to fill the hole in their food budgets.

Who’s Picking Up the Slack?

A 2019 study found that families whose SNAP benefits were reduced or cut off were more likely to experience food, healthcare and energy insecurity. Affected individuals must now turn to state and county agencies and nonprofits to make ends meet. Some states, like New Jersey, passed legislation to increase state-level food assistance, but most have not. This will force most affected individuals to lean on food banks already struggling due to the recent inflation-fueled rise in food costs and lower-than-expected donations.

Next Steps for SNAP

Ideally, the SNAP reductions would have been made more gradually. That said, some steps should be taken to reduce the impact. The Federal Government has an opportunity to address SNAP benefits in the upcoming Farm Bill, and states that have yet to pass legislation to fill the shortage can either address food insecurity directly or consider how reduced SNAP funds are affecting household budgets when discussing housing and healthcare subsidies. Hunger and poor nutrition don’t exist in isolation, and there will be increased societal costs if they aren’t mitigated.

The plight of hungry Americans isn’t always visible to those in a position to help. In addition to passing emergency funding, there needs to be increased awareness of the problem among Americans who may be able to donate to their local food banks and among businesses who can direct their 2023 charitable giving to non-profits tackling hunger.

State and federal agencies should also better communicate available services to people in need through outdoor, online, radio and television PSAs. There is a silver lining in that the Consolidated Appropriations Act added funds for summer nutrition to the National School Lunch Program. Vulnerable kids will at least be able to rely on those meals. Ideally, seniors and others affected will also get the help they need.

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¿Incidencias Inexplicablemente Bajas? Cómo La Tropicalización Aumenta Los Índices De Participación

En la industria de la investigación de mercados, la incidencia se refiere a la proporción de personas de una población que cumplen los requisitos para participar en un estudio específico. Por ejemplo, si un estudio busca personas que hayan comprado un producto concreto en los últimos seis meses, la incidencia sería el porcentaje de personas de la población total que cumplen este criterio.

Si la incidencia es demasiado baja, puede resultar difícil encontrar suficientes participantes para realizar un estudio válido y relevante, lo que aumenta los costos y el tiempo de campo para completar el estudio. Identificar criterios de selección lo suficientemente específicos como para obtener resultados fiables y, al mismo tiempo, lo suficientemente amplios como para producir una muestra representativa es fundamental.

Pero, ¿qué ocurre cuando un proyecto experimenta incidencias inexplicablemente bajas a pesar de considerar criterios de selección amplios? Cuando el reclutamiento que debería haber sido rápido y fácil no lo es.

La respuesta a por qué la gente no participa en la encuesta puede estar en cómo está diseñada. Examine qué preguntas de la encuesta están siendo abandonadas. ¿Qué tendencias observa? Los cuestionarios deben adaptarse a las necesidades de una población determinada para que tengan eco. Los investigadores pueden hacerlo a través de la tropicalización, en la que el lenguaje y el estilo de las preguntas se adaptan a un contexto cultural específico, modificando ciertos términos y expresiones para hacerlos más comprensibles y relacionables con hablantes locales, culturas o generaciones específicas.

La tropicalización se puede utilizar para adaptar las preguntas de la encuesta en cuatro áreas para lograr resultados máximos:

Tropicalización del lenguaje

Considerar la tropicalización del lenguaje en la investigación de mercado es importante, especialmente al diseñar encuestas. Simplemente traducir preguntas de un idioma a otro es insuficiente. La redacción de las preguntas y la presentación de las opciones de respuesta de forma diferente influyen en la eficacia general de la encuesta. El contexto cultural y las características del público objetivo siempre deben considerarse al diseñar una encuesta para que sea relevante para la audiencia prevista.

El abandono de la encuesta también puede producirse por otros motivos, como un problema de configuración en la programación de la encuesta o simplemente porque los encuestados se aburren. Es fundamental que los investigadores analicen en qué parte del cuestionario los encuestados abandonan o son filtrados para comprender mejor qué se necesita para mejorar las tasas de participación.

Tropicalización demográfica

La tropicalización del lenguaje también puede incluir la adaptación de un cuestionario, encuesta o entrevista a la edad de los encuestados, especialmente si en un proyecto de investigación participan personas de diferentes edades.

Cuando se realiza en relación con las edades de los encuestados, la tropicalización puede implicar el ajuste del nivel lingüístico, la presentación y la formulación de las preguntas, la terminología y el tono para garantizar que las preguntas sean comprensibles e interesantes para cada grupo de edad.

Por ejemplo, si se le pregunta a jóvenes menores de 18 años sobre sus hábitos de consumo, se podría simplificar la redacción y utilizar ejemplos más concretos y actuales. Para los adultos de más de 30 años, podría utilizar un lenguaje más formal y una presentación más compleja pero fácil de entender.

Al adaptar el lenguaje en función de la edad de los encuestados, los datos recopilados serán más precisos, ya que las respuestas pueden variar según su comprensión de las preguntas. Además, la tropicalización del lenguaje también puede contribuir a la satisfacción de los encuestados, ya que las preguntas fáciles de entender hacen que los encuestados se sientan más cómodos al responderlas.

Tropicalización de la lengua en América Latina

Aunque el español se habla ampliamente en América Latina, no todos usan las mismas palabras. Por ello, tropicalizar un cuestionario adaptando términos y expresiones a las variantes regionales del español hablado en cada país, facilita la comprensión.

Al aplicar un cuestionario de investigación en otro país, hay que tener cuidado. Lo que tiene sentido para unos puede confundir a otros. Por ejemplo, una tienda de conveniencia en algunos países latinoamericanos puede llamarse "tienda de abarrotes" o "minimercado", según la región. En el caso de la comida, la palabra "taco" en México y Nicaragua se refiere a la comida envuelta en una tortilla, mientras que en Colombia puede referirse a una mentira o exageración. En Chile, puede referirse a un atasco de tráfico. Del mismo modo, la palabra "torta" puede referirse a un alimento salado en México, mientras que en otros países como Argentina, es un postre dulce.

La tropicalización de las encuestas de investigación de mercado en América Latina puede prevenir problemas de comprensión y aumentar los índices de participación.

Tropicalización con hispanos en Estados Unidos

Si pensaban que tropicalizar cada encuesta según el país objetivo en América Latina era complicado, realizar una encuesta para hispanos en Estados Unidos es aún más desafiante. Esto se debe a que muchas encuestas se centran en los hispanos en general, incluyendo a personas de cualquier país de América Latina, con diferentes niveles de aculturación y diversos entornos socioeconómicos.

Pero el equipo multicultural experimentado de ThinkNow es experto en estas áreas y puede asesorarle para mejorar la incidencia en LATAM y EE. UU.

Póngase en contacto con nosotros. Podemos ayudarle.

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Unexplainably Low Incidences? How Audience Customization Increases Participation Rates

In the market research industry, incidence refers to the proportion of people in a population who meet the requirements to participate in a specific study. For example, if a study seeks people who have purchased a particular product in the last six months, incidence would be the percentage of people in the total population who meet this criterion.

If the incidence is too low, finding enough participants to conduct a valid and relevant study may be difficult, increasing costs and field time to complete the study. Identifying selection criteria specific enough to obtain reliable results yet broad enough to produce a representative sample is critical.

But what happens when a project experiences inexplicably low incidences despite considering broad selection criteria? When recruitment that should have been quick and easy is not.

The answer to why people are not participating in the survey may lie with how your survey is designed. Examine which survey questions are being abandoned. What trends do you see? Questionnaires must be customized to the needs of a given population if they are to resonate. Researchers can do that through audience customization, in which the language and questioning style is adapted to a specific cultural context, modifying certain terms and expressions to make them more understandable and relatable to local speakers, cultures, or specific generations.

Audience customization can be used to adapt survey questions in four areas to achieve maximum results:

Audience Customization for language

Considering language audience customization in market research is important, especially when designing surveys. Simply translating questions from one language to another is insufficient. The wording of questions and presenting response options differently matters to the overall effectiveness of the survey. Cultural context and characteristics of the target audience should always be considered when designing a survey so it’s relative to the intended audience.

Survey abandonment may also occur for other reasons, such as a configuration problem in the programming of the survey or simply because the respondents are bored. It is critical that researchers analyze where in the questionnaire respondents are either dropping out or being filtered out to better understand what’s needed to improve participation rates.

Audience Customization for demographics

Language audience customization can also include adapting a questionnaire, survey, or interview for the age of the respondents, especially if a research project involves people of different ages.

When done in relation to the ages of the respondents, audience customization may involve adjusting the language level, presentation and question wording, terminology, and tone to ensure the questions are understandable and interesting for each age group.

For instance, if you're asking young people under 18 about their consumption habits, you could simplify the wording and use more specific and contemporary examples. For adults over 30, you might use more formal language and a more complex but easy-to-understand presentation.

When adapting language based on the respondents' ages, the collected data will be more accurate, as responses may vary according to their understanding of the questions. Furthermore, language audience customization may also contribute to respondent satisfaction, as easy-to-understand questions make respondents more comfortable answering them.

Audience Customization for language in Latin America

Even though Spanish is widely spoken in Latin America, not everyone uses the same words. Therefore, audience customizing a questionnaire by adapting terms and expressions to the regional variants of Spanish spoken in each country aids comprehension.

When applying a research questionnaire in another country, be cautious. What makes sense to some might confuse others. For example, a convenience store in some Latin American countries can be called "tienda de abarrotes" or "minimercado," depending on the region. In the case of food, the word "taco" in Mexico and Nicaragua refers to food wrapped in a tortilla, while in Colombia, it can refer to a lie or exaggeration. In Chile, it can refer to a traffic jam. Similarly, the word "torta" can refer to a salty food in Mexico, while in other countries like Argentina, it is a sweet dessert.

Audience customizing market research surveys in Latin America can prevent comprehension problems and increase participation rates.

Audience Customization with Hispanics in the United States

If you thought that audience customizing each survey according to the target country in Latin America was complicated, conducting a survey for Hispanics in the United States is even more challenging. This is because many surveys focus on Hispanics in general, including people from any country in Latin America, with different levels of acculturation and diverse socioeconomic environments.

But ThinkNow's experienced multicultural team of experts is skilled in these areas and can advise you on improving incidence in LATAM and the U.S.

Get in touch with us. We can help.

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Breaking Down Barriers: Creating Inclusive Workplaces Through Behavioral Change

Companies prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion often experience higher rates of productivity and increased profits. That diversity goes beyond racial and ethnic differences, however. Diversity of thought is equally important, which drives innovation and creative problem-solving.

From a talent management perspective, fostering an inclusive workplace is essential to attracting and retaining talent and developing talent, particularly for marginalized and underrepresented groups. The process begins with acknowledging that these groups require programs specifically designed to build equity within an organization. While people generally have a shared humanity, understanding that systemic “isms” have moved the finish line for marginalized communities is essential to advancing equity.

DE&I initiatives existed before 2020, but post-George Floyd, many organizations have stepped up their commitments, partly because it's the right thing to do but also in fear of public backlash. An increasing percentage of consumers want to shop with brands that prioritize DE&I. Similarly, a growing number of consumers are willing to stop frequenting a store that does not publicly and consistently support diversity and inclusion. It is not just consumers unwilling to support a brand that does not meet DE&I expectations. Prospective and current employees within an organization are hyper-aware of this, and they use it to decide whether to take a job or not or stay or leave their current jobs.

Ultimately, an organization's culture is not inclusive if people are invited into a space unwilling to change. People need a sense of belonging to feel included and authentically accepted for who they are. But creating that environment in an organization is challenging because it is not easy to change hearts and minds. People have deeply ingrained values and beliefs, which make behavioral change difficult.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Tanya Diaz-Goldsmith, Director of Talent Development & Diversity for Related Companies, shares how DE&I programs focusing on behavioral changes can foster inclusive workplace environments and increase employee retention.

Meet Tanya:

Tanya Diaz-Goldsmith is the Director of Talent Development & Diversity for Related Companies. She leads Related’s diversity efforts, working to embed best in class diversity and inclusion practices into all facets of the business in order support the company’s commitment to advancing equity. Since joining Related, Tanya has developed robust strategies to promote diversity that prioritize a holistic, people centric approach and makes use of her decades of experience in real estate and nonprofit. She continues to leverage her background to build an organizational culture that inspires and supports ideation, innovation and inclusion. An enthusiastic and passionate advocate for DE&I, Tanya is known for her commitment to increasing diversity within the real estate industry.

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Can Impact Investing Level the Playing Field for Diverse Founders?

Impact investing has emerged as a powerful tool for directing private capital toward social and environmental causes while generating financial returns for investors. This approach is particularly relevant for black and brown entrepreneurs who often face systemic barriers that limit their access to capital and resources. Many of these entrepreneurs are creating businesses that address social and environmental challenges faced by their communities, such as access to affordable housing, healthcare, and education. However, they often struggle to secure the funding they need to grow and scale their businesses.

Despite the data documenting the opportunity gap for diverse founders compared to their White counterparts, there is a persistent narrative that suggests no correlation between race and ethnicity and business enablement. Yet, their funding journey varies significantly and getting people to buy into social impact as a business strategy isn't easy.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Jessica Salinas, Chief Investment Officer at New Media Ventures, discusses how impact investing can empower diverse entrepreneurs and contribute to a more just, equitable, and sustainable society.

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