Gaining Insights on Sensitive Topics using AI

How the Government of Canada utilized CRIS by Delvinia to conduct qualitative research on the lived experiences of the working LGBTQ2 community.

Research Challenge

The Privy Council Office of the Government of Canada wanted to understand the lived experiences of LGBTQ2 individuals regarding stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

While there have been numerous studies around issues that people face in the workplace, there is limited understanding about the lived experiences of LGBTQ2 individuals specifically. This is owing in part to the challenges in studying the LGBTQ2 community, including the relatively small incidence in the population, as well as the sensitivity that these individuals may feel in identifying their sexual orientation or gender identity and discussing the related challenges they have experienced.

How then does the Privy Council Office gain these important insights on a hard to reach group in a way that is efficient yet comfortable for respondents?

Research Solution

To begin this project, a quantitative survey of 3,000 Canadians, both English- and French-speaking, from the AskingCanadians panel was created. This allowed us to determine among the working population the proportion who identified as LGBTQ2, and from there which group they specifically identified as belonging to.

A sample of those who identified as LGBTQ2 in the initial survey were then invited to take part in a ten-minute, one-on-one qualitative interview with CRIS by Delvinia – an AI-enabled virtual moderator – to explore their experiences in the workplace.

In the interviews, CRIS asked participants to describe their workplace, and to share whether they had felt any stigma or discrimination based on their LGBTQ2 identity. If they had, they were prompted to describe what they had experienced and share what, if anything, they had done about it.

Often the stigma or discrimination that participants experienced was related to general insensitivity around stereotypes, language and jokes. Some of the stigma or discrimination that participants had experienced was more implied, taking the guise of another issue that they felt impacted their career advancement. Leadership was identified as a key factor in setting the right example in terms of appropriate language and behaviour in the workplace.

For those who hadn’t experienced stigma or discrimination, their reasoning as to why fell primarily into two camps. First, some felt it was because their workplace was truly inclusive. Second, others felt it was only because their LGBTQ2 identity was unknown. Thanks to CRIS and the use of layered questioning such as this, it was possible to uncover the reasons behind participants’ actions and feelings.


 By using CRIS to conduct the interviews with this hard to reach audience, the study completed 62 interviews in both English and French over a period of only 5 days. Moreover, it included a broad demographic cross-section of the LGBTQ2 population.

The absence of a human interviewer helped to provide a neutral environment where participants were able to share their experiences free from any perceived judgment. Since the platform is up and available at all times, participants can access their interviews at any time that is convenient for them, helping to eliminate the traditional barrier of scheduling conflicts. Additionally, the discussion is free-flowing and allows for richer dialogue through layered probes and responses to understand lived experiences and stories from each participant’s perspective.

These narrative accounts give the Privy Council Office the information they need to direct conversations with partners both internal and external to government regarding the need for any further research and the development of policy priorities. Overall, the technology enabled the key advantages of participant anonymity, convenience and depth of dialogue.


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