Editor’s note: Rill Hodari is the founding president of the Association of Minority Market Research Professionals (AMMRP), Chicago.

As anyone who has done mass consumer research knows, although a U.S. Census representative sample solicitations is sent out, the final data set is rarely representative. And often when you let the responses come in without any extra controls – in other words letting them naturally fall out – total minority representation is typically 4 to 5 percent. That is 4 to 5 percent for all minority groups.

Similarly among market research and consumer insights professionals, minority race/ethnicity representation is much lower than the U.S. population proportions even though extra efforts are made by some companies to increase representation. Table 1 shows the racial/ethnic composition of marketing research employees during the typical employment ages of 20 to 69 years old. Conversely, a recent estimate of racial incidence puts minority representation among analyst/associate and manager at 17 percent, with Asians over-represented at 10 percent and African-Americans and Hispanics underrepresented at 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

One reason for this demographic distribution may be due to low awareness of market research careers but since low awareness this is something that impacts the field in general, it should impact all groups equally. In addition, it should be noted that although the corporate market research practices may have started in the 1920s, U.S. minorities may not have started to participate to a significant degree until after the 1980s. So the chronological delay in the history of minorities in market research may also impact current representation.

Doing further analysis we find there may be even more dynamics at play. A review of over 200 LinkedIn profiles reveals that although 60 percent of the profession report having graduate level degrees, over 90...