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SIOP Granted NGO Consultative Status With the United Nations

John C. Scott
APTMetrics, Inc.

At the initiative of Past President Gary Latham, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) submitted an application 3 years ago to the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in order to be granted special consultative status as a nongovernmental organization (NGO). This application process spanned the terms of four SIOP presidents and drew heavily on the support of Gary Latham, Kurt Kraiger, Eduardo Salas, and our current president, Adrienne Colella. In addition, Linda Lentz from SIOP’s Administrative office spent countless hours on application forms and special requests. Our efforts finally paid off and we are proud to announce that SIOP has just been granted NGO special consultative status with the ECOSOC! The ECOSOC is one of six principal organs of the United Nations System established by the UN Charter in 1945 and serves as the central forum for formulating policy recommendations regarding international economic and social issues (Economic and Social Council, 2010).

By obtaining NGO consultative status, SIOP can make direct contributions to the programs and goals of the United Nations by accessing and participating in the work of the ECOSOC. The members of SIOP bring a very unique set of skills and body of research that aligns with ECOSOC’s vision and mission and that can be leveraged to drive positive societal change on a global basis. In particular, ECOSOC supports several key UN initiatives for which SIOP and its members have the capacity to play an important contributing role.

The first of these initiatives is known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have been adopted by all 192 UN member states and represent eight time-bound goals designed to confront extreme poverty in its many manifestations. The MDGs include specific targets that address poverty and hunger, maternal and child mortality, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality, environmental sustainability, and a global partnership for development. These goals, which were adopted by world leaders in 2000 and designed to be achieved by 2015, provide a framework for the world community to work together towards a common purpose, in an interdisciplinary fashion. The organizations and the people in them, whether working in aid, governments, health services, education, or business, are at the cutting edge of these initiatives.

Although many I-O psychologists may wonder what particular skill sets would be useful in this context, our discipline is engaged in work and research that is directly relevant to, and can be leveraged by, the ECOSOC to support its long-term goals as well as the MDGs. A few of these areas include:

• Gender and diversity research and program development
• Talent selection and development
• Corporate social responsibility research and initiatives
• Entrepreneurship (enterprise development)
• Occupational health and safety
• Teams and team leadership
• Performance management
• Research design
• Compensation and pay equity analyses
• Program evaluation and the development of key outcome metrics

Carr (2007) also provided an insightful framework for mapping various core competencies of our discipline against the challenges faced by organizations tackling the MDGs, and Thompson (2009) has described the viable role that organizational psychologists can play in global poverty reduction. In addition, a Global Task Force for Humanitarian Work Psychology was recently formed to promote and leverage the skills that organizational psychologists bring to the table to improve the design, delivery, and evaluation of international aid and the provision of essential human services to health, education, and industry. The I-O skills needed for this initiative include, among others: program evaluation, change management, policy development, program implementation, and consultation on personnel issues. In addition, the impact that I-O psychologists have had in private enterprise brings a significant level of credibility to these global agendas (Berry, et al., 2009).

A second initiative that aligns with SIOP’s mission and values is the UN Global Compact. Also launched in 2000, this strategic policy initiative provides a framework for companies that endorse sustainability and responsible business practices. The Global Compact is a voluntary initiative that is organized around 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anticorruption. The goal is to “mainstream” these principles around the world and harmonize and align businesses with the broader UN goals, including the MDGs. The SIOP annual conference has featured theme tracks over the past few years that directly align with the goals of the UN Global Compact, and many I-O psychologists are already actively engaged in activities that support this initiative (Berry, Reichman, & Schein, 2008).

Advancing the Goals of the Alliance for Organizational Psychology (AOP)

SIOP’s consultative status with ECOSOC aligns with the mission and advances the objectives of the AOP, which was recently formed among SIOP, the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology, and Division 1 of the International Association of Applied Psychology. The mission of AOP is to support and advance the science and practice of organizational psychology and to expand its scope of application and contribution to society to improve the quality of working life. The AOP alliance strives to increase I-O psychologist’s potential for global impact and for developing more effective communication and collaboration among businesses around the world.

The international framework embodied by the AOP, combined with enhanced access and opportunities afforded by NGO consultative status, will help drive our capacity to support the UN Global Compact, address MDG challenges, and promote the use of evidence-based decision making in management and policy development on a global scale. This is an important milestone for SIOP, the AOP, and all of its members. More to come!


Berry, M. O., Reichmann, W., & Schein, V. E. (2008). The United Nations Global Compact needs I-O psychology participation. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 45, 33–37.

Berry, M. O., Reichmann, W., Klobas, J.,. MacLachlan, M., Hui, H. C., & Carr, S. C. (2009). Humanitarian work psychology: The contributions of organizational psychology to poverty reduction. Journal of Economic Psychology, doi:10.1016/j.joep.2009.10.009.

Carr, S. C. (2007, July). I-O psychology and poverty reduction: Past, present, and future? The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 45(1), 43–50.

Economic and Social Council (2010). Retrieved from http://esango.un.org/irene/ index.html?page=viewContent&nr=121&type=13&section=13&index=0.

Global Task Force for Humanitarian Work Psychology. (n.d.). Humanitarian work psychology. Retrieved from http://www.humworkpsy.org/resources/HWP_Brochure.pdf.

Thompson, L. F. (2009). Humanitarian work psychology: Examining work and organizational psychology’s role in global poverty reduction. International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) Division 1 Newsletter, 2, 27–31.