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The SIOP External Relations Committee (ERC): Helping to Make I-O Matters Matter

Deirdre Knapp

Steve Ashworth
Sempra Utilities

Zachary Horn

Eden King
George Mason University

Debra Major
Old Dominion University

Fred Oswald
Rice University

This article serves as a brief introduction of the newly formed External Relations Committee (ERC). The general charge of the ERC is to coordinate with the SIOP Executive Board and existing SIOP committees and channel the collective value and voice of SIOP (i.e., you!) to key policy makers on a direct and continuous basis. The incredible assets of our profession—a storehouse of expertise on critical workplace issues—are obvious to ourselves as a professional society. However, in conducting its strategic planning several years ago, SIOP leaders voiced the concern that these assets are not as obvious to policy makers who focus on a wide range of societally important domains (e.g., federal priorities for research, state licensing boards, pay-for-performance systems, age and race discrimination policy). Thus, the SIOP External Relations Committee (ERC) was initiated in January 2010. To date, the ERC has been tasked with nurturing existing relationships with external organizations that influence policy, such as APA, APS, and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS) to increase the awareness and representation of I-O psychology issues and I-O psychologists. The ERC also seeks to initiate and maintain new relationships with other external agencies that influence policy (e.g., SHRM, ATP, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society). In short, the goal is for SIOP to inform and educate external agencies relevant to the profession of I-O psychology on a continuous basis, and the ERC is a centralized mechanism for doing so.

Within SIOP, the ERC is best viewed as a conduit for coordinating advocacy efforts with other internal committees (e.g., Scientific Affairs, State Affairs, International Affairs, Professional Practice, and Visibility). Although the ERC is sure to monitor and alert SIOP of potential opportunities for advocacy (e.g., announcements from federal agencies, relevant work-related litigation or press releases), it functions best when advocacy comes from within SIOP committees and the SIOP membership. For instance, the Scientific Affairs Committee has recently created a survey for its members to indicate the agencies with which it has developed relationships (e.g., funding from federal agencies, organizational consulting opportunities, work with state licensing boards, expert witness work in the legal setting). The ERC will work with the committee in analyzing results from this survey to identify likely avenues for future advocacy efforts.

Whether or not you realize it, whenever you are conducting professional work outside of a collective of I-O psychologists, you are conducting advocacy work! Therefore, you have the opportunity to contribute your energy and goodwill in helping SIOP advocate for its membership as a whole. Furthermore, just as external agencies and policy makers may be unaware of the value that I-O psychology brings to them, advocacy efforts also bring great internal value to SIOP because greater awareness of our own constituency can create new opportunities for collaboration, advocacy, and external visibility.

Please contact one of our ERC members at any time should you have specific SIOP advocacy issues related to science or practice, if you know of particular agencies or agency representatives whom SIOP should contact, or if you know of forums where SIOP can reach out to communicate the purpose and value of the profession of I-O psychology. We seek to serve you and the Society and to be responsive to your advocacy needs!