“It's not always easy to convince someone a need exists, if they don't have that need themselves.”

CAROLINE CRIADO PEREZ Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Introduction

The Belongg Circle is an inclusive research platform that matches organizations working in specific domains with a) intersectional experts with perspectives on those domains and at least or more diversity markers (gender, caste, race, sexuality, religion, disability, body) &/or b) the lived experience of marginalization. We work with brands, research organizations, media houses, conference organizers, policymakers, and designers who are interested in getting deep perspectives from experts and users focused on these “identities”. As an illustration, if you are a researcher focused on healthcare, & would like to speak to an expert on transgender health issues, we can help. If you are a brand that makes fintech solutions & want to include research participants with physical disabilities in your design process, we can help. And if you are organizing a large conference on water & sanitation and want to include perspectives of caste and gender minorities, we can help you with potential panel participants. 

More About The Circle

The Belongg Circle is developing a network of several thousand people in India and is fast increasing our coverage of domains and industries.. We expect to offer coverage across other geographies soon. 

Special features of the Belongg Circle network are

    • Careful vetting of the experts before we bring them onto the network to make sure that they have deep expertise in both the domain and at least some dimension of diversity
    • Large numbers so that unique insights can be harnessed without repetition
    • A customized experience with different levels of service ranging from access to list, proactive scheduling, and also thought leadership

Why Is This Important?

The standard office air-conditioning temperatures in offices, set by thermostats, make things too cold for women whereas seat belts and car safety features end up being more risky for women because they have been designed keeping men as the “average user”. Urban schools can’t be accessed by millions of physically disabled students. All of these are real problems that emerge because of a lack of representation of people with realities different from the “average” or the “mainstream”. Even though such structurally bad design or exclusion is being noticed by people and conversations such as “manels” at conferences are getting more frequent, the current dialogue barely scratches the service. There is a real opportunity to create innovative solutions focusing the needs of traditionally excluded groups: for instance, OXO started designing kitchen tools for people with arthritis but over time have become one of the most widely sold product with the highest ratings generating hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue.

Why Should You Join As A Topical Expert?

Many passionate and talented researchers, academics, consultants, executives, entrepreneurs, social sector professionals across the world focus on important problems at the intersection of a topical domain and a specific diversity marker: say gender and health, or disability and employment, or old age and kitchen products.However, they find it difficult to participate and influence decision making within various public sector, private sector, and civil society sector settings due to a lack of access, the high effort involved in tracking engagement opportunities, and, often, conscious exclusion from these settings by the powers that be.We’re hosting a brown bag on the 16th of March in Delhi and are inviting five-minute presentations by participating researchers on their respective research interests. The objective of this event is to have researchers come together on a platform that facilitates a better understanding of ongoing research activity and also surfaces collaboration opportunities with complementary researchers.

Value Proposition For Consulting Firms

Consulting firms carry out research & strategy projects that involve interviewing stakeholders and experts across domains and functions. However, most firms don’t have robust processes to identify and engage with experts who have expertise at the intersection of a topic/domain and one or more diversity markers (gender, race, religion, caste). This absence not only makes the research findings less representative but also leaves out important insights that these experts might be able to bring. Further, many clients of consulting firms are increasingly keen on diversity. 

What Belongg Circle Offers

We can partner with you on proposals and live engagements and bring panels of experts with expertise at the intersection of SDG-themes and diversity markers (gender, race, caste, disability, sexuality, religion)

Presently, we have coverage of four themes – water & sanitation, jobs & employment, mental health, and urban development - and are expanding to cover other domains

Collaborating with you to reduce implicit bias within your firm and teams

Value Proposition For Impact Investors, VCs, & Donors

Venture capitals, impact investors, and philanthropists fund a range of companies and initiatives that seek to create value in different spheres. However, many of these companies and initiatives and related product offerings aren’t as inclusive as they should and also tend to have blindspots around inclusion and diversity. Not only does this lead to social justice issues but also to a situation where value creation opportunities are not recognized.

What Belongg Circle Offers

We can support your investees and grantees connect with intersectional experts as well as end-users to uncover new growth opportunities at intersection of traditional product-market segments and diversity markers (scan opportunities, latent needs, test business models)

Presently, we have coverage of four themes – water & sanitation, jobs & employment, mental health, and urban development - and are expanding to cover other domains

We can collaborate with you to reduce implicit bias within your firm to enable better investment assessment decisions

Value Proposition For Brands

Brands and companies develop both new products and services and accompanying communication campaigns to help spread the word. However, the new product development and market research processes at many firms don’t consciously recruit experts and participants that can bring insights across different diversity markers (gender, sexuality, race, caste, religion, disability, etc). This absence leads to an absence of key insight that could lead to pathbreaking features in products and services that would appeal to a broader audience on the one hand and also to, sometimes, gross errors in messaging and product design that lead to public challenges.

What Belongg Circle Offers

Access to diverse & inclusive market research panels (both experts & end-users) across diversity markers to support product development and marketing communication

Communication and advertising review processes to ensure that there are no obvious red flags wrt inclusion themes

Value Proposition For Researchers

Academics & researchers carry out research focused on both topics such as healthcare/ sanitation or else identity markers such as gender, sexuality, race, and so on. Research gets carried out across borders of countries and regions and most researchers and research centers don’t necessarily have robust processes to identify and engage with experts and research participations who have the lived experience within the domain being researched and one or more diversity markers (gender, race, religion, caste). This absence not only makes the research findings less truly representative but also leave out important insights that many of these participants might be able to bring given their backgrounds.

What Belongg Circle Offers

We can partner with you on research participant recruitment for your existing research projects (and also proposals) and bring panels of experts as well as end-users with the lived experience at the intersection of research themes and diversity markers (gender, race, caste, disability, sexuality, religion)

Value Proposition For Journalists

Inclusive representation on media platforms (such as television panels) as well as in the process of writing journalism stories is vital to the functioning of vibrant democracies. However, due to time, cost, and information constraints many willing journalists and media houses are unable to identify and connect with experts who might bring diversity perspectives (linked to gender, race, sexuality, disability, religion) to a story. This leads to very vital gaps in the coverage of important issues and an absence of rights and justice and well design design public services for hundreds of millions.

What Belongg Circle Offers

We can partner with you to help identify experts and sources with expertise at the intersection of certain themes and diversity markers (gender, race, caste, disability, sexuality, religion) so that they can be included on your media platforms (panels, talk shows) as well as be included in your stories

Value Proposition For Conference Organizers

Topical conferences are really important for critical discussions related to a range of topics across industries and domains. However, many conferences and panels in those conferences don’t explicitly focus on balanced representation cutting across diversity markers (gender, race, caste, disability, sexuality, religion). The recent emphasis on “manels” has led to a gender-inclusion approach to conference design but this doesn’t go deep or wide enough. Conferences and panels would be significantly more valuable if they became more diverse and inclusive and allowed for intersectional perspectives.

What Belongg Circle Offers

We can partner with conference organizers and panel leads to help curate experts with deep experience in the domain and one or more diversity markers (gender, race, caste, disability, sexuality, religion).

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