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A Message From Your President

Gary Latham

What I knew at a subconscious level I did not become fully aware of until I was elected president:  SIOP is amazingly efficient and effective.  This is amazing because other than eight dedicated full- and part-time employees in Bowling Green, SIOP relies solely on volunteers, most of whom have full-time jobs, to agree to be a nominee for an elected office or to be appointed to a committee that contributes to the meaningfulness of SIOP for us, the SIOP membership.  As volunteers, we rotate on and off SIOP committees at 1–3 year intervals.  Because we are relatively homogeneous in our values as scientist–practitioners, SIOP does not get whipsawed despite the fact our committee membership continually changes.  Hence, what SIOP was able to accomplish in 2008–2009, in my eyes, is truly impressive.

In my final presidential column, I will discuss where SIOP is relative to my three presidential goals for increasing SIOP’s visibility in the public arena.  In this column I will address (a) the steps we are taking in response to our practitioner survey, and (b) an age-old topic, the licensing of I-O psychologists.

Practitioner Survey

The last three issues of TIP have reported the results of the Practitioner Survey conducted at the request of the Executive Committee (EC) in early 2008.  This year I asked the Professional Affairs Committee chaired by Deb Cohen, the Visibility Committee chaired by Chris Rotolo, as well as EC members Deirdre Knapp, Ken Pearlman, and Suzanne Tsacoumis to examine the results.  At our February EC meeting, President-Elect Kurt Kraiger took the lead in pointing out what we need to do next, while the EC discussed where “SIOP is now.”

Current Steps/Future Steps
1.  I have asked the Awards Committee, in conjunction with the Professional Affairs Committee to develop an early career professional award with criteria appropriate for practitioners so that SIOP may offer parallel recognition for those excelling in both practice and the academic arenas.

2.  Denise Rousseau is the editor of our forthcoming Science You Can Use book series (see this issue of TIP).  It will be an evidence-based edited book of original chapters, published annually, that will summarize the state of practice/science on specific “practice topics.”

3.  The SIOP Learning Center provides a video of both the Leading Edge Consortium and SIOP conference.

4.  Our preconference workshops at the annual conference in the spring and the fall Leading Edge Consortium or LEC (initiated under the leadership of past president Leaetta Hough) are heavily practitioner oriented.

5.  Beginning with our upcoming fall LEC, we will initiate a preconsortium event geared for practitioners, a senior consultant/practitioner roundtable that will be an informal gathering to “share and network” or a special workshop tied into the LEC topic.  This will occur the afternoon prior to the LEC.

6.  I have asked the Professional Affairs Committee to create a mentoring program for practitioners.

7.  Deb Cohen and Nancy Tippins are positioning SIOP as the thought leader for evidence-based management in the eyes of the public by becoming the supplier of this information for SHRM’s 250,000 members; I am personally involved in partnering with business schools to provide SIOP expertise (i.e., speakers) for executive education; John Scott is EAWOP’s, Division 1-IAAP, and SIOP’s representative to the United Nations; and Virginia Schein chairs a taskforce for the alliance of these three organizational psychology associations for issuing “white papers” to influence public policy (e.g., the aging workforce).

8.  EAWOP, IAAP, and SIOP will form an alliance at our spring conference in April, at EAWOP’s biannual conference in May, and IAAP’s conference the following year.  Among the objectives of the alliance will be to develop a certification process for the “global practice of organizational psychology.”

9.  Dave Nershi and I have met with SHRM.  They have agreed to market SIOP books in our ) Professional Practice series as well as the forth-coming series, Science You Can Use.  The latter is being published by the American Psychological Association.

10.  I have asked TIP Editor Wendy Becker to create a list that shows where member practitioners have been speaking, presenting, and keynoting.  The objective is to show the value and impact of practitioners, much the same way research is highlighted.

11.  I have sent a request to incoming Program Chair Sara Weiner to encourage sessions at our spring conference that showcase how practitioners have impacted business.

Kurt Kraiger, who will likely be our president when you are reading this column, has committed to doing the following:

1.  Establishing a practitioner-oriented microsite with information that provides easy access for sharing best practices and nonproprietary consulting tools and technology (note that a companion site would provide similar information for academics).

2.  Increasing access by SIOP members to up-to-date research and reviews and critiques of mainstream HR/business books.

3.  Creating a top 10 list of SIOP conference programs (e.g., by numbers attended, tapes sold).

4.  Creating communities of interest through the use of Webinars and/or electronic newsletters.


APA is once again examining the licensing of psychologists.  They are creating a Model Licensing Act (MLA) revision that will be sent to individual states and provinces.  Fortunately for us, Vicki Vandaveer and Judy Blanton are members of the MLA task force.  They are doing a phenomenal job of getting the task force to understand how we in SIOP are different from those who work in the health and mental health fields.  In addition, the two of them have been very effective in working toward making the MLA realistic/applicable for those of us who want to label ourselves in the marketplace as psychologists, a legal requirement in the majority of states and provinces.  As members of the MLA task force, Vicki and Judy must be adept at compromise if they are to retain their influence.  The requirement for 2 years of supervision following receipt of the PhD remains a requirement in the MLA in order for us to become licensed. However, Judy and Vicki are attempting to modify this requirement to allow supervision by a SIOP Fellow who is not necessarily physically present.

In the past, those of us who did not want to become licensed were able to practice by refraining from marketing ourselves as psychologists.  The proposed MLA goes beyond the label of psychologist to include the prohibition of activities by those of us who are not licensed:  “provision of direct services to individuals and/or groups for the purpose of enhancing individual and thereby organizational effectiveness using psychological principles, methods, and/or procedures to assess and evaluate individuals or personal characteristics for individual development and/or behavior changes or for making decisions about the individual, such as selection.”

Thanks primarily to the efforts of Vicki and Judy, those of us who the MLA proposes to exempt from licensing include (a) people engaged solely in teaching in academic institutions or research in academic and/or research institutions, and (b) those of us who provide services for the benefit of the organization, and not involving direct services to individuals, yet using psychological principles, methods, and/or procedures, including but not limited to job analysis, attitude surveys, personnel selection testing and validation, design and implementation of training programs and performance appraisal systems, organization design, and so forth.  All of us who fall in these two categories, the MLA proposes to the states/provinces, should be able to call ourselves psychologists without the requirement to be licensed.

At our winter EC meeting, we were presented with a letter signed by eminent thought leaders in SIOP, several of whom are past presidents, and all of whom are or were department heads/chairs of psychology departments (see this issue of TIP).  They explained why they want SIOP to take an official stance against the mandatory licensing of those of us who practice I-O psychology.  After reading their letter, and after discussing the complexity of discerning the distinction between service for an individual versus an organization, the EC passed a motion against the mandatory requirement for an I-O psychologist who “practices” to become licensed.  Instead, A SIOP task force will investigate the feasibility and resources needed to develop a voluntary global certification process for us.  I am setting a challenging but achievable goal for the task force to move us towards implementation of such a process within 3 years.  The rationale for this stance on licensing is currently being written under the leadership of Kurt Kraiger.  The results will be disseminated to the states/provinces, APA, and of course to all of us through TIP and our Web site.  In the interim, the EC remains fully supportive of Judy and Vicki’s efforts on our behalf.  As of March 2, you have a 90-day opportunity to present your comments to the MLA task force.  I urge you to please do so.