How to Ask Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation: IA’s IDEA Council Releases Preliminary Research Results - Industry News
How to Ask Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation: IA’s IDEA Council Releases Preliminary Research Results

How to Ask Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation: IA’s IDEA Council Releases Preliminary Research Results

As part of its research-on-research efforts, the Insights Association’s IDEA Council released preliminary results from its Phase 2 research on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation at IA’s Annual Conference last week in Hilton Head, SC.

Beginning with eight weeks of deep-dive immersion learning sessions with industry and community experts, the study design and initial research outcomes reflect a wide range of important, and often less heard, voices.

Among the key highlights from the topline findings:

  • If the questions need to be asked, then explain why you are asking questions about Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation and how responses will be used.
  • People are more comfortable answering questions about Gender Identity than Sexual Orientation unless they can remain anonymous or are answering for medical or personal reasons.
  • The question, “What is your sex? Male or Female” was:
    • Most preferred by older generations, total men, and total women
    • Least preferred by those who identify as LGBTQ+, Trans Man, Gender Fluid and Non-Binary

Questions that offer detailed inclusive options to identity were:

  • Most preferred by Gen Z, Non-Binary, LGBTQ+, Allies of LGBTQ+

Practices to Avoid:

  • Asking questions about “Sexual Attraction
  • Using language that implies identity is a " Choice"
  • Listing “Other” as a response option

The IDEA Council is collaborating with numerous insights organizations on this effort. Research was conducted in English and Spanish via two surveys with a total of 5,681 U.S.-based participants.

A complete analysis, along with industry recommendations, will be announced in the coming weeks.

This work comes on the heels of groundbreaking IDEA Council research on Race & Ethnicity queries.

“Research is needed to ensure that as an industry we are asking demographic questions the right way –to be inclusive, to not alienate our respondents, and to not create any biases,” commented Melanie Courtright, CEO of the Insights Association.

“Brands across all industries are focused on this issue – they want to be sure they are getting it right,” added IA Board Chair Elect Scott Baker, Executive Vice President, Client Solutions, Brands at Sago. “With this research-backed guidance they don’t have to guess. They can confidently approach their customers and research participants with appropriate terms and choices.”   

Tchicaya Ellis Robertson, Ph.D., Senior Principal, Thought Leadership at Accenture, and IDEA Council Chair, commented, “This work is seminal! More often than not, there is a rush to the finish line to get to the ‘so what.’ Unfortunately, that leaves us doing what’s fast and not what’s right. The investment to get it right by not only the Insights Association, but several of our member organizations, shows that we are committed to elevating the voices that matter, in ways that matter to them. Identity should be understood and celebrated, not alienated, or marginalized. I am proud to work with so many who make the investment in time and resources to get it right.”

Added Carlos Garcia, CEO of Garcia Research, and a member of the IDEA Council, “I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to contribute to this seminal work. As a Gay man and a Latino, I am all too familiar with the feeling of having to squeeze myself into someone else's idea of who I am. With the work of the IDEA Council, we are connecting with all facets of the American crazy quilt to make sure that everyone is accepted and acknowledged on their own terms. This may seem like a subtle shift to some, but to me this effort at inclusion feels deeply meaningful. After all, we don't study demographics, we study people, and their feelings matter. Bravo to the Insights Association for taking this on.”

Get Involved: If you would like to collaborate, share your own research in this area, contribute resources, and help bring recommendations to the insights industry, please contact the IDEA Council.