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Marketplace diversity research honored with prestigious award

Marketplace diversity research honored with prestigious award

Associate Professor Henderson studies why and when multicultural people are not included in the global marketplace.

Seven years ago, associate professor Geraldine Rosa Henderson, PhD, struck up a surprisingly productive conversation at a conference. Common interests among the group members quickly led to a published paper – and a major award.

The paper, “Beyond Poverty: Social Justice in a Global Marketplace,” which was published in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, received the prestigious Kinnear Award in 2015 for significant contributions to the fields of marketing and public policy.

“We were very surprised, and we were very happy,” Henderson said of receiving the honor.

Social justice in the global marketplace

In the paper, Henderson and her co-authors focus on inclusion and exclusion in an increasingly diverse marketplace.

Henderson and her group used a form of marketing scholarship called transformative consumer research (TCR) to share ideas for their winning paper. She says that TCR is different from other approaches because “it’s all about consumer well-being and what marketers can give to consumers.” 

Inspired research for a changing marketplace

Before starting her career in marketing, Henderson worked at IBM by day and pursued an MBA at night. It was in a multicultural management class in the 1990s that she first heard about the concept of Workplace 2000: the expectation that by the year 2000, 85 percent of all new entrants into the workplace would be women and ethnic minorities.

“What I was interested in was ‘What impact does the Workplace 2000 have on the Marketplace 2000?’ These new entrants are now going to have new levels of disposable income they’ve never had. So what do they do with that? And that’s where I started,” Henderson said.

This newfound curiosity about research centered on an evolving marketplace led Henderson to study marketing full-time and eventually co-write her award-winning paper. It is also pushed her to finish her forthcoming book, Consumer Equality: Race and the American Marketplace, which she wrote with two others.

Henderson’s book concentrates on multicultural exclusion, or what she describes as “why and when multicultural people are not included in the global marketplace.”

This social justice-oriented research is, according to Henderson, increasingly important in today’s society. She urges marketers and consumers to think about the chaotic events happening throughout the country.

“A lot of these violent activities that are happening are either in or around a marketplace,” she said. “People sometimes belittle the marketplace because they think it’s frivolous. But it’s a part of our everyday experience. The marketplace is central to what is happening today.”

Henderson’s book on multicultural marketplace exclusion is set to be published later this year.