Words Matter: A Multicultural Insights Project

The mainstreaming of Black Lives Matter and other social-justice causes has led some brands to take immediate action. But what are the "right" consistent and authentic actions for your organization?


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How can your brand participate in and add to the conversations about Black Lives Matter and the underlying issues of diversity, equity, and representation when there’s a lack of a common, accepted vocabulary?

The place to begin is by understanding the language and narratives around racial equity. This multi-phased research program will provide the essential insights to inform and inspire your brand
in both your internal and external communications.


  • Understand the language, definitions, and narratives of racial equity, and how brands can speak thoughtfully and authentically about topics like Black Lives Matter, immigration, Me Too and anti-Asian racism.
  • Develop a roadmap for invoking universal, unifying vocabulary to inspire positive change; Illuminate where efforts can mistakenly backfire and curtail progress
  • Highlight how brands and organizations can accelerate positive change through mindful, authentic communication; reveal best (and worst) practices for speaking about topics like BLM and social justice
  • Develop a "playbook" that will help guide you toward language that is inclusive, unifying, and/or commonly understood, while also helping you avoid language that's confusing, misleading or alienating.


The mainstreaming of Black Lives Matter and other social-justice causes has led brands to take immediate action. How can they speak thoughtfully and meaningfully about these topics while remaining authentic as a brand and not alienating other consumers who aren't fully steeped in the language of social justice.

Methodology: Qualitative/quantitative

Qualitative Design

Design Rationale:

Three "Buckets of Learning" will guide the analytical framework of this project:

1. Taxonomy of Language
2. Words of Exclusion vs. Inclusions and Progress vs. Status Quo
3. Authentic Language and Brand Application

Qualitative Research Target

Gender: 50% Male, 50% Female

Ethnicity: Approximates national population distribution

Ages: 25 to 54

Additional Demographic Screening:


-- Understand the specific language that is being used, and how it is being used, within the frame of digital conversations
-- Distill existing language and narratives and understand how Americans ascribe meaning to those words and narratives

Methodology: AI platform together with human anthropologists scrape and analyze online conversations at scale, in order to reveal and help categorize and understand conversations people are having around race, equity, discrimination, and equity

Key Questions:
- What words are associated with what conversations and topics?
- Who makes what associations?


Objective: Leverage academic research and expert knowledge to understand the context and existing insights when it comes to the vocabulary of diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-discrimination efforts. Provide necessary context and establish existing knowledge/norms.

-- Literature review of the history of diversity and racial justice language, across six key academic disciplines (e.g. business, linguistics, etc.)
-- Look back over the past decade of academic and other publicly available research
-- Expert in-depth-interviews with an author, professor, or other expert in each of these disciplines (six total)

Key Questions:
-- Where did our current DEI lexicon begin? What is accelerating vs curtailing the use of certain vocabulary?
-- How does that differ across different disciplines?


-- Discuss specific language used around race and social justice, and how that emotionally and practically impacts different racial, ethnic, and generational cohorts
-- Surface potential areas of improvement and unifying language

-- 15 professionally moderated online video triads and quads with different racial, generational, and ethnic cohorts
-- Hispanic groups facilitated by bilingual moderator

Key Questions:
-- How do different demographic cohorts speak about DEI topics and racial justice? Where do they speak about it?
-- What emotional triggers surface, across different topics and vocabulary?
-- What language is clear vs. confused? Alienating vs. unifying?


Objective: Find common ground for how we talk about topics related to DEI and racial justice, in particular in the context of business and brand communication

-- Remesh session with 400 Americans
-- Over-recruitment for Black/Hispanic/Asian participants
-- 50% male, 50% female, Ages 18 to 74

Key Questions:
-- How can we best talk about racial justice, in particular in professional environments?
-- What is the most unifying, meaningful and inspiring language about DEI that brands can invoke?

Geography: US Only; Approximates national population distribution

Quantitative Design

Design Rationale:

Three "Buckets of Learning" will guide the analytical framework of this project:

1. Taxonomy of Language
2. Words of Exclusion vs. Inclusions and Progress vs. Status Quo
3. Authentic Language and Brand Application

Quantitative Research Target

Additional Demographic Screening:

Online survey to validate the magnitude of the qualitative findings and tap into potential language solutions


Deliverable Overview:

The multi-part deliverables will be rich with data and insights; our focus is to activate these learnings for your organization.

1. Webinars with Leave-Behind Documentation at Each Stage of Research

Ongoing learning and discussion as each stage of research is completed

-- Interim written reports and webinar presentations for Digital Anthropology, Desktop Research, and Small Group Video Conversations
-- Discussions at each stage to inform the next stage
-- Online observation portal for video interviews

2. Final Webinar with Town Hall Discussion and Breakout Sessions

Bring the insights to life through participation in facilitated discussion sessions to share learnings and opportunities and activate those learnings in organizations

-- Single integrated in-depth report, including a strategic executive summary
-- Webinar presentation of key insights across all stages of research
-- Town hall conversation featuring panelists from our IDIs and/or small group video chat discussions
-- Breakout sessions to brainstorm tangible action steps:
-- Assess company-specific implications
-- Develop implications for different departments or divisions
-- Implement resource tools (e.g. webinars, portal with deliverables, etc.)
-- Professional development design and facilitation
-- Opportunity for Q&A and follow-up peer discussions with smaller breakout groups

3. Learning Management System Portal with Insights and Practice Activities

Provide a landing space for "Words Matter" research insights and professional development exercises that can help to activate these insights in your organization while helping your team internalize the findings and remain engaged around it.

-- Password protected portal with data, reports, key insights, and professional development activities to reinforce and activate learnings at your organization.
-- Total number of “seats” determined by participation tier

Reporting: Formal Report; Summary Report; Video Report

Presentation: Web-based

Timing: Available Immediately


Company: The Multicultural Collective Insights Team

Previous Projects: 1


Supplier's Qualifications:

The Multicultural Insights Collective is a consortia of research and professional development professionals that formed around shared multicultural research and racial justice goals. Led by a diverse team of expert researchers, this collective:
-- Provides disciplined consumer insights on topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation
-- Activates opportunities for professional and organizational development
-- Represents six different woman and/or minority-owned businesses

Supplier's Team:

Kerry Edelstein - President & Founder - Research Narrative
Delphyne Lomax Taylor - Principal - V & L Research and Consulting
Michaela Mora - President - Relevant Insights
Vashte Steinbiss - Owner, Design Strategist – Slidedesignr
Damion Taylor - Founder - Prometheus Digital Studio
Jay Tucker - Executive Director - UCLA Anderson Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment & Sports (MEMES)
Lisa Wilding Brown - Chief Research Officer - Innovate MR
Candace Hokett – Owner, CHH Consulting, LLC
Jimmy Zollo - Co-Founder and CEO - Collaborata


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