Living our values through our work
Many people come to The Unmistakables with the same question: “Where do I start to support my organisation in becoming more equitable/diverse/inclusive?” Whilst nuanced in response, our answer will always be the same - start with people. Start by really understanding the experience, perspectives and needs of people, whether that is people within your organisation (e.g. colleagues), or people your organisation wants to reach (e.g. customers). This principle spans all of our projects and it’s what we mean by taking an ‘insight-led’ approach to our work.
‘Insight’ like many words in the creative and cultural space is a loaded term. What exactly is an ‘insight’? How do you surface an ‘insight’? And our favourite: ‘How do you surface an insight that is authentic, universal and actionable?’
At The Unmistakables, we take a values-led approach to the design, collection, analysis and delivery of insights to ensure that people remain at the centre of our approach from start to finish. We believe it is not only what you do when it comes to research, it’s how you approach research. Details make the difference between good and great research. Good research does the job. Great research makes everyone involved think and feel differently. Great research, which is ultimately a form of storytelling, opens your eyes, expands your world and stays with you as all great stories do.
We apply five values to produce great research; Individuality, Inclusivity, Initiative, Integrity and Inspiration.
We ensure our research is nuanced by creating bespoke teams on each project who have relevant lived experience and subject matter expertise. We create regular forums for debate and discussion throughout the project life cycle to ensure diverse, intersectional and informed perspectives are brought to the fore and in conversation with client partners so we can learn from one another and build cultural confidence in the process.
In practice: Research shows that young, Black communities are underrepresented in certain leisure activities, particularly in spaces felt to be predominantly White. For a recent project exploring how a national youth organisation can better increase uptake with Black communities, we ensured our research team (including moderators and analysts) had a representation of younger people, Black identity and an in-depth understanding of the charity and volunteer model.
As humans we all have biases. We actively mitigate against bias at the design phase by ensuring diversity of perspectives. We always begin with a qualitative approach so we are led by the perspectives of our audience, rather than the team or client. We advocate mixed methodology research where we pair qualitative research, to get the depth of human experience, with quantitative data to validate and scale findings; supporting organisations to make informed cultural and commercial decisions.
In practice: Studies have shown that representation in mainstream media audiences is limited, reflecting a need for more inclusive approaches to editorial and content. For a project with a national news brand, we mitigated our personal and political bias by upweighting the sample of underrepresented audiences. We designed a multi-methodology approach, where a qualitative online community surfaces hypotheses for a quantitative survey that is validated and scaled for non-readers and readers. The data will be used to inform brand and content strategy.
Oftentimes we carry out research that hasn't been done before, and wasn’t thought possible due to structural inequities within the field. This requires both ourselves and our partners to do things differently, to consciously challenge structures to improve outcomes for all. Creativity and initiative are necessary at each and every step. We find collaboration is critical for success and therefore contract on working principles at the outset of a project to set expectations, accountability and guidelines.
In practice: Working with a national cancer support charity, we created an innovative and sensitive methodology to understand the needs, experiences and challenges of those living with and affected by cancer. To find participants who wanted to support this research, we partnered with local grassroots organisations working with communities that have traditionally been underserved by cancer charities and service provision. We factored in time to build relationships with all participants to create a safe, accessible and empowering community space for them to share experiences. These experiences and opportunities for growth helped the charity evolve its services and better support neglected communities.
Theoretically, we know research in the ED&I space can surface uncomfortable and difficult truths about people's experiences in relation to identity, power and politics. However, theory is one thing, reality is another. Given the sensitivity and importance of the subject, together with the responsibility of representing voices that are often marginalised, we ensure our counsel to client partners is diplomatic but never diluted.
In practice: Across our work, we know there will be moments that will be difficult for our partners to hear. We account for this by sharing why we’re choosing to bring to light a specific data point or insight; sensitively sharing why it is significant and what it means for the organisation. Where we think findings may be especially challenging we account for decompression and reflection time in designing our programmes. This space enables both our partners and colleagues to learn in practice. Our expertise across culture and communications allows us to convert challenging insights into actionable recommendations to support our partners in making constructive and inclusive changes.
Our work has a purpose; to create meaningful change, and not just check a tick box. In our research, people are often sharing sensitive and difficult experiences and entrusting us to represent their voices. We don’t take this trust lightly and want to use it wisely. We ensure we share findings and recommendations in a way that is both human and impactful; infusing our delivery with unmistakable storytelling and creativity to help organisations become culturally relevant.
In practice: In a recent project exploring how to make teaching a more inclusive profession, we brought participants into the space sensitively and powerfully by sharing audio recordings of them speaking directly to key barriers and challenges of considering a move into the profession. By enabling participants to speak directly using their words, rather than translating sentiment on their behalf, we created a more authentic and impactful delivery of findings to resonate with key decision-makers.
To learn more about how our research solutions can accelerate inclusion in your organisation, get in touch.