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A More Visible Visibility Committee

Carl Persing
Metrus Group
SIOP Visibility Committee Chair
Christine Corbet
Right Management
SIOP Visibility Committee Member

What exactly does an industrial-organizational psychologist do? It’s a question most of us have heard repeatedly during our careers. And so we launch into the well-practiced elevator speech describing our jobs, making minor adjustments given the level of sophistication of our audience. Although we would expect this type of question from the person sitting next to us on a plane, it is unfortunate to note that recent research with business leaders and HR professionals shows that only 19% of them know what I-O psychology is (Rose, McCune, Hartman-Spencer, Rupprecht, & Drogan, 2012). This is in stark contrast to the fact that 67% of the same leaders are familiar with I-O consulting firms such as DDI, PDRI, Aon Hewitt, and so on. Such a gap suggests a serious disconnect, indicating that these leaders may be buying and (profitably) using I-O science and not even know it.

To help address this issue (among others) and promote a greater understanding and recognition of I-O psychology, the Visibility Committee was formed in 1999. Among the Visibility Committee’s continued goals are enhancing SIOP’s identity, working with the media to promote I-O news, and increasing SIOP’s visibility to a wider audience. In support of these goals, we are delighted to bring you this column, “A More Visible Visibility Committee,” to introduce the Visibility Committee to our members who are not aware of its existence or purpose, to provide an overview of the activities in which we are engaged, and to inspire all I-Os to help raise the visibility of our profession.

The Visibility Committee comprises six subcommittees, each with unique goals related to promoting I-O to a wider audience: Branding, HR/Business, Media/Outreach, Metrics, Public Policy/Advocacy, and Students/Academia. In addition to these, we have a standing liaison to SIOP’s Professional Practice Committee, given the great deal of overlap between our respective agendas. Our subcommittees are:

  • Branding, chaired by Kevin Kramer. This group is tasked with building and managing the SIOP and I-O brands and working directly with Marketing to position us to the world at large. As part of this work, the Branding Subcommittee is partnering with SIOP’s Branding Task Force to launch a new SIOP brand in 2013.
  • HR/Business, chaired by Brodie Gregory. The goal of this subcommittee is to enhance our visibility among HR professionals and business leaders. The HR/Business Subcommittee is producing a series of “hot topics” white papers that are grounded in research but written in a manner accessible to HR and business professionals who want to learn more about the latest developments in I-O. These papers will be posted on the SIOP website, and a social media campaign will promote the papers and help drive traffic to the site.
  • Media/Outreach, chair to be determined. This team works with media outlets—both traditional and nontraditional (e.g., blogs)—to promote both I-O and SIOP.  The Media/Outreach Subcommittee is partially composed of SIOP office staff. They host the Media Luncheon in NYC facilitated by Ben Dattner. In addition, they place I-O relevant stories in news outlets and are always exploring a variety of channels through which we can spread the word about the work that we do.
  • Metrics, chaired by Mark Rose. The focus of this group is on designing and implementing a system of metrics to assess our visibility efforts. For example, the Metrics Subcommittee recently conducted surveys with HR professionals and business leaders to examine their perceptions about SIOP and I-O. This survey produced the useful data referenced in our opening paragraph. These data will be compared with follow-up survey results to measure our progress in raising awareness about SIOP and I-O psychology. Future efforts will include identifying new metrics (e.g., international visibility of SIOP and I-O), monitoring existing metrics, and increasing collaboration with other SIOP committees, including the Branding Task Force.
  • Public Policy/Advocacy, chaired by Valerie Sessa. The purpose of this group is to enhance our visibility among the government officials who set work-related public policy. This team stays abreast of policy changes that impact our field and is working on an initiative to prevent reductions in grant funding. Part of their important work includes alerting SIOP members to opportunities to reach out to government officials and make them aware of SIOP’s position on public policy matters.
  • Students/Academia, chaired by Matt Millard. This team develops strategy and solutions for enhancing visibility among psychology and business students, academics, and textbook publishers. As part of their current efforts, they are identifying I-Os to speak at colleges, high-schools, and business and civic groups through the Teacher’s Bureau. In addition, the committee has sent letters and materials to over 1,000 2- and 4-year colleges to promote I-O in the psychology and business curricula, and each spring they host informational webinars for prospective students of I-O. These webinars are archived on the SIOP website.

In addition to all of the great work noted above, the Visibility Committee is currently partnering with SIOP regarding a new conference event in Houston this April. Developed for local HR and business leaders, this event will promote the work that I-Os are doing in a very practical way. We are still in the planning stages, but we envision this as a workshop/seminar that showcases I-O thought leadership in a business context. This brings us to our next point, which is a call to action for each of you…

To help promote the SIOP and I-O brands in the marketplace, we need the assistance of all of our SIOP members and affiliates! There are many ways you can do this, and most of them are high value, low effort activities:

  • If you have thoughts or ideas on the conference event mentioned above (format, content, presenters, etc.), let us know!
  • Tell us if you’d like to get more involved with any of the great work being done by the Visibility Committee and its subcommittees.
  • Get the word out! Don’t avoid conversations when someone asks, “What is I-O psychology?” Strike up a conversation about I-O with the person sitting next to you or with HR and business leaders with whom you interact. Explain more about I-O and the science behind the practice when talking to your clients.
  • Be an ambassador: Give talks to your local business groups, colleges, and even high-schools. Encourage college students you know to think about a career in I-O.
  • Stay connected. Follow SIOP on twitter (@SIOPtweets); join and participate in SIOP and I-O-related groups on LinkedIn; connect with SIOP on Facebook; review or edit something on our wiki page (http://my.siop.org/w/index.php?title=3:Wiki_Home_Page).
  • Look for this column each time you read TIP to stay abreast of our latest activities.

Reach out to us if you’d like more information about any of our initiatives or if you have some ideas on how we can increase the visibility of I-O even further. You can contact the authors via e-mail; Carl Persing’s address is crpersing@gmail.com, and Christine Corbet’s e-mail is christine.corbet@right.com. Although the Visibility Committee is here to support each of you in your efforts to promote our beloved brand, we are all ultimately responsible for marketing I-O and ensuring a bright and vibrant future that continues to attract strong talent to our ranks. We encourage you to help us to change the conversation and ensure that those around us understand and appreciate all that I-O has to offer. From all of us at the Visibility Committee, thank you!

Reference

Rose, M. R., McCune, E. A., Hartman-Spencer, E . L., Rupprecht, E. A., & Drogan, O. (2012). Visibility survey metrics results. Bowling Green, OH: SIOP Visibility Committee.