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Report of the External Relations Committee (ERC)

Spring 2010

The SIOP EB approved the recommendation to establish an External Relations Committee (ERC) at its winter meeting. I accepted Kurt's invitation to be the initial chair of this new committee. In consultation with Kurt, we identified three people to include on the 2010 committee, all of whom accepted the invitation. We are having our first meeting in conjunction with the SIOP conference in Atlanta.
I crafted a charter for the ERC by lightly editing the Advocacy Task Force recommendation approved by the EB this winter (see attached). The editing was not substantive, but just to make the document work as a charter instead of a recommendation.
In accordance with the charter, the committee is small and includes a current APA representative (Debbie Major). The other members are Dianne Maranto (National Security Agency) and Eden King (George Mason University).
Progress to date has of course been quite limited. Jay Goodwin (Scientific Affairs Committee) reached out to me to confer about the project that Steve Kozlowski has been planning some time which involves preparing I-Os to be more successful at obtaining Federal research funding. I also would like to check in with Paula Skedsvold (the Federation), Heather Kelly (APA), G Harris (ATP), and anyone from APS or other organizations you suggest to let them know about this new committee since I expect we will on occasion wish to reach out to their organizations in the furtherance of the advocacy agenda of the SIOP EB.
As of this writing, we are awaiting guidance from the EB on what issues we should be tracking. We hope to have some guidance from Kurt and Ed before our meeting at SIOP. We also request that you consider this question at the EB meeting.
With my best regards to all of you,
Deirdre Knapp, HumRRO

Charter of the SIOP External Relations Committee
Approved by the Executive Board, January 2010


The SIOP strategic planning meeting held in September of 2006 recommended the critical examination and improvement of SIOP’s advocacy efforts and channels. The resulting advocacy task force identified three broad foci for advocacy efforts: research, practice, and expert voice & policy. They faced a major barrier due to the broad distribution of advocacy issues and channels across the Society, however, and so a lack of coordination around the issue of advocacy continued to be evident. An advocacy task force was re-chartered in 2009 to examine how to best improve the Society’s advocacy efforts. The charge of this ad hoc committee was to focus on improvements in the process of advocacy across the Society.

For ease of reference, following are the two SIOP strategic goals most pertinent to this discussion.
1. Visible and trusted authority on work-related psychology. This includes
  • Heightened awareness with lay, business, scientific, and government communities of the role and value of I-O psychology in improving productivity and well-being in the workplace.
  • Greater outreach to the broader field of psychology and related disciplines and organizations (including organizations outside of the United States), policy makers, the public, and the media.
2. Advocate and champion of I-O psychology to policy makers. This includes
  • Increased efforts to obtain federal funding for I-O research.
  • Increased efforts to monitor and influence policy and legislation affecting human behavior at work.
  • Heightened awareness among top managers in business about the value of I-O psychology and I-O professionals.
Some of these goals align with the current committee structure (e.g., Visibility Committee) while others do not, leaving a gap in the Society’s ability to execute its strategy. For example, we have historical alliances with APA and APS to be managed and maintained and several new relationships to be nurtured (e.g., with FABBS, EWOP, and APA’s research- and consulting-oriented divisions). Responsibility for coordinating our activities with these entities is not defined under our current structure.
Task Force Recommendation
To ensure that SIOP’s advocacy concerns are addressed in an effective, coordinated way, the Task Force on Advocacy recommended that SIOP form a new standing committee for External Relations that would be responsible for (a) clarifying SIOP advocacy goals across the spectrum of SIOP concerns, (b) coordinating continuous attention to those goals through the work of SIOP committees and outside organizations, and (c) facilitating and monitoring progress toward those goals. The committee would not be responsible for setting the advocacy agenda; however, they may provide input to the Executive Board and the President as they established and adjust these priorities. The new committee was approved by the Executive Board in January 2010. This document is a lightly edited version of the action item that was voted on.
Note that advocacy goals may often be quite short-term and reactive, such as when we learn of pending state legislation related to the practice of I-O psychology (e.g., the recent situation in which California planned to subsume the psychology licensing board within the medical licensing board).
Charge of the External Relations Committee
1.      Clarify, document, and operationalize SIOP’s external advocacy goals across the spectrum of research, practice, and expert voice & policy concerns (e.g., increase federal research funding for I/O research efforts, place I/O psychologists on state licensing boards, provide expert input on federal pay-for-performance systems and age discrimination policies).
2.      Identify advocacy tools and strategies and develop/maintain SIOP’s capability to use these to advance its interests to external decision-makers.
3.      Coordinate advocacy efforts, including identifying SIOP committees and external organizations best equipped to carry out advocacy activities.
4.      Communicate advocacy goals to SIOP committee chairs and others who are responsible to SIOP advocacy efforts and clarify expectations regarding their role in advocacy.
5.      Serve a monitoring function for specific targets that arise (e.g., assign and coordinate expert input on the federal pay-for-performance systems, recommendations for I/O-oriented research to be carved out of budgets for basic research).
6.      Be accountable for ensuring momentum in pursuing advocacy goals.
7.      Collect input on new or emerging issues and raise these to the EB for consideration and prioritization as future advocacy goals
8.      Provide feedback to the Executive Board on the effectiveness of advocacy efforts.
Committee Operation
The primary purpose of the new committee is to monitor and coordinate SIOP’s advocacy work to ensure alignment across the committees and groups that may be helping with these efforts. To a large extent, the committee will ensure that advocacy goals are accomplished by working through other committees (e.g., Scientific Affairs, State Affairs, Professional Practice, Visibility), APA, APS, FABBS, and other groups. They will collaborate with the Executive Board to ensure that advocacy goals and strategies are consistent with EB strategic goals for the Society and would communicate with chairs of relevant committees and sub-committees to provide goal clarification, offer support for specific activities, and monitor goal progress. They may take direct responsibility for some advocacy activities that don’t have a natural home in the existing SIOP committee structure, and they will be responsible for ensuring continuity of advocacy activities that are carried out through external organizations (e.g. the Federation) and by standing committees during leadership/membership transitions. The role and function of the committee in the context of the advocacy process is shown in the figure below. 
Differentiation from the Visibility Committee
The Visibility Committee has a related charter to the External Relations Committee. The committees are compared here to clarify their differences and to help each committee be more effective and focused.

The current charter for the Visibility Committee states:
The role of the Visibility Committee is to increase the visibility of SIOP, SIOP members, and I-O psychology to business, government, and education leaders, HR professionals, students, and the general public. The committee also works to establish and build SIOP’s brand. Activities currently being performed by committee members, or planned, include preparing and coordinating the distribution of press releases describing the work of SIOP members, helping to generate positive press associated with the annual SIOP Conference, and working with the SIOP Administrative Office to establish and maintain a database, called Media Resources, containing information about the SIOP members who are willing to share their research and expertise with the press. Committee members also contribute to a regular TIP column, SIOP Members in the News.
The table below contrasts the mission and activities of the Visibility Committee with the External Relations committee.

External Relations
To raise the awareness of the profession by promoting the work of SIOP members and generating publicity and awareness of the field. The committee creates and maintains channels for generating awareness of I-O psychology (e.g., by maintaining relationships with the media).
Establish and maintain relationships and alliances with external organizations that can help us achieve our advocacy goals. Coordinate, align, and delegate work across committees for the purpose of increasing the Society’s ability to influence and persuade decision-makers on specific issues of relevance to Society members.
Broad audiences where increased awareness of I/O psychology is needed. This may include general audiences such as business leaders, the media, and the public as well as specific populations such as undergraduate psychology majors and potential LEC participants.
Specific decision-makers and organizations where policy affecting the science and practice of I-O is made. This may include APA, state and federal legislators/policy makers, and various funding agencies.
Major activities
Proactively seek content and channels for publicizing the work of the Society and its members. Work to define and promote the Society’s image and brand.
Work with the EB to establish clear advocacy goals. Determine appropriate influence targets, and prioritize and coordinate committees and external organizations to maximize SIOP’s influence.

Committee Structure
This is a small committee – 3 plus a chair. To ensure effectiveness and continuity of advocacy efforts, the chair should be an individual selected primarily on the basis of experience, skills, and interest in advocacy, and be appointed for a renewable 2 year-term (at the discretion of the President), with no maximum term of service. [Note that this flexibility requires an exception to the standard expectation that committee chairs will rotate off after serving a 2-year term.] In the first few years of the committee, years on the committee for members will be staggered so that there are always at least two members (including the chair) carrying over from year to year. To facilitate continuous and clear communications with the EB, at least one member of the committee should be a current APA Council Representative.
The External Relations Committee reports to the External Relations Officer, who also oversees the Visibility and International Affairs Committees. Thus, this officer also serves as the ex-officio member of the committee.