Affecting Positive Change: DEI In UX Research

Inclusivity - Image by Rosy from Pixabay

Being adept at categorization is a vital evolutionary adaptation. How else would humans know the differences between poison and not poison, safe and dangerous, right and wrong, and us and them? Like all critters with a frontal lobe, we’d be extinct1 if we couldn’t tell up from down – metaphorically and literally. But humans go beyond using categories to survive: we often harshly characterize one another to our own detriment. 


User researchers care deeply about people’s beliefs and behaviors, so it’s important that we represent not only their needs as consumers but honor their identities as people. Key Lime Interactive does just that by providing a free Inclusivity IndexTM to every client as part of our service.


Key Lime Interactive’s Inclusivity Index

At Key Lime Interactive, we work hard to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusivity both internally among our staff and externally among participants and clients. As one of our primary principles, Key Lime provides every client with an Inclusivity Index – an analysis of and report about the characteristics of the people who participated in each study. 


The Inclusivity Index evaluates participants’ gender, race/ethnicity, and disability/use of assistive technology – along with other metrics that are relevant to the study. 


One of Key Lime’s core values is to do the right thing. So, we don’t conduct this index to count heads. We do the right thing by striving to ensure that participants are reflective of the diversity of the United States - or the country where the research is being conducted - population. This helps us identify opportunities for clients to expand inclusivity and to track improvements over time.


Affecting Positive Change – Doing the Right Thing

At Key Lime, we help affect positive change as we journey from every phase of the research process. We 

  • collaborate with stakeholders to scope inclusive projects
  • write equitable screeners to recruit diverse participants
  • analyze data through various lenses, and
  • represent participants’ perspectives in our deliverables – perspectives that have been traditionally underheard

Finally, we provide our unique Inclusivity Index free of charge as a service to all clients.

Key Lime Interactive’s Inclusivity Index aims to affect positive change for users – all users. The only way to do that is to ensure that a diversity of views is represented every time we do research. And in order to ensure that representation is accurately indexed, we rely on reputable demography databases – not just the easy go-to's. We do the same for our international research, going above and beyond to find comparable demographic data of equal caliber. 


From there, we provide clients with opportunities to reach new people they might otherwise have overlooked.


Demographic Databases

An important way that Key Lime has contributed to DEI efforts throughout the UX/CX field is to go beyond the United States Census and research better demographic databases. We’ve done a deep dive to make sure our Inclusivity Index sources are accurate, current, and respectful of groups’ own identifiers. It’s also key to ensure consistency of demographic data in order to accurately measure how we’ve improved DEI over time.


Here’s a quick synopsis of the demographic indices we’ve found to be most useful. We provide many more details about demographics in our free Inclusivity Index Starter Kit, available online.


United States Census Bureau

The Census is in many ways fantastic, but it falls short in important areas – mostly having to do with misrepresenting sexual and gender minorities, labeling racial and ethnic categories, and over- and undercounting minority groups. To do better, head over to the …


American Community Survey (ACS)

The ACS is part of the US Census Bureau but collects data every year instead of every ten. It focuses on community-level socioeconomic factors. It also helps us see local microtrends alongside the macro.


National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)

UX researchers should try to ensure that people with disabilities are accurately represented. The NCHS is one of several data repositories that Key Lime Interactive relies on when it comes to topics like the use of assistive technology.


US. Bureau of Labor Statistics

To avoid confusion about which jobs fall into which sector, Key Lime’s screeners consistently use the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 17 recognized employment sectors.


UCLA School of Law – Williams Institute

When we craft our Inclusivity Index report for each project, we always take gender into account and ensure that we are doing our very best to represent the perspectives of folks who have historically been marginalized. 


We also rely on other databases to learn about the veteran population, digital device ownership and usage, internet access, and educational background.


Let Key Lime Help Improve Your DEI Maturity

To learn how you can help improve your company’s DEI maturity, listen to a recording of our webinar: DEI in UX: How to assess your level of maturity.


For more information about how Key Lime can help your company be more diverse, inclusive, and equitable – and the many other services we offer – contact us. We’re thrilled to help you with your UX/CX research projects and to answer any questions you might have.


1  Smith, J David et al. “Categorization: The View from Animal Cognition.” Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 6,2 12. 15 Jun. 2016, doi:10.3390/bs6020012

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