What are the ethics of “They don’t know I’m the CEO”?

Via Experientia’s Putting People First, this post about Target’s CEO doing in-home observations and interviews with consumers.

But then this:

“No one knows I am the CEO of Target when I do that,” Cornell said during a question-and-answer session with reporters. “They don’t even know we’re from Target. We will interview them. I have sat with Hispanic moms with 5-year-old little girls, talking about their needs as they think about their baby, where they shop, what they shop for.”

Ethics klaxon! I can see how declaring your background and position could colour an in-home visit but I hope that participants are told after the fact what’s happened. That sort of disclosure would be required for university research ethics at my institution.


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