This SIOP Anti-Racism Grants program stimulates and supports projects and research intended to promote our understanding of racism and eliminate it from the workplace. As stated on the SIOP website, I-O psychologists conduct and apply “research that improves the well-being and performance of people and the organizations that employ them.” Because the presence of overt and institutionalized racial discrimination constitutes direct and indirect threats to the well-being and performance of employees and employers, anti-racism in the workplace is a topic that I-O psychology as a field must address.

Background

The United States of America was created under the banner of liberty and justice for all. The banner does not say “liberty and justice for white male property owners”; rather, it proclaims fundamental beliefs about American democracy, society, and culture that apply to all citizens. We cannot adhere to an ideology promising liberty and justice for all without taking those words seriously.

Since 1619 when the first slave ships landed on this continent, Americans have confronted race issues. Many of the first American businessmen were farmers (overwhelmingly White), and some owned slaves (overwhelmingly Black) who provided the labor to sustain their agriculture-based enterprises. The question of slavery in the context of territorial expansion brought on the Civil War and ultimately, the Emancipation Proclamation, amendments to the Constitution, and other federal legislation intended to protect the rights of all citizens regardless of race. Although the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was meant to extend equal protection of the law to all citizens, sharecropping and Jim Crow laws perpetuated the oppression of Black citizens. Despite legal protections, reminders of the racism embedded in American culture surfaced regularly, and continue to do so.  Beginning with the industrial revolution of the 19th century, the U.S. economy shifted from agriculture to manufacturing. Despite the 15th amendment and laws to protect the rights of all male citizens, many companies still discriminated in the workplace based on race.

The quest for liberty and justice for all in all aspects of life, including employment, intensified in the 1950s and 1960s, cresting with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, when Equal Employment Opportunity became the law of the land. Passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 sought to bring the ideology of freedom and equal opportunity in all aspects of life to fruition.

Although more than 50 years have elapsed since passage of the Civil Rights Act, evidence indicates that racial discrimination in employment remains (King, Avery, & Sackett, 2013). Roughly 24,000 racial discrimination claims were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2019 alone. Moreover, anecdotal evidence suggests that subtle forms of discrimination based on race and ethnicity are rampant in the workplace.  News articles (e.g., Cooper, 2020; NPR, 2020) appear daily, highlighting racist and discriminatory actions by employers and other employees.

Overt acts of racism have become taboo in many circles. For instance, it is quite rare to see an organization explicitly indicate that members of a race are unwelcome. This is in stark contrast to the Jim Crow era when signs such as “Help wanted: Blacks need not apply” were commonplace. Despite a few noteworthy exceptions (e.g., Texaco executives in the 1990s, Shoney’s CEO in the 1990s), much racial discrimination has been forced into the shadows. Nevertheless, objective evidence demonstrates its continued presence (see Avery, Volpone, & Holmes, 2015 for a comprehensive review). In fact, audit studies have shown that, all else equal, job applicants with Black sounding names received fewer callbacks than those with White sounding names (Bertrand & Mullainathan, 2004), and a White applicant with a criminal record received more callbacks than a Black applicant without one (Pager, 2003). Furthermore, there have been several recent, well publicized examples of racial harassment at work, such as threatening messages and nooses left for Black employees at the Toledo, Ohio GM plant in 2019, showing that overt racism at work is not a thing of the past.

Despite a history of discrimination research in our field (Colella, King, & Hebl, 2017), we know little about the causes or the contexts in which racism occurs. We know that racism exists, but we are less clear on the multiple ways in which it is manifested. Simple main effects of race are less likely to be detected due to pressures to appear unbiased. Overt racism can lead to costly lawsuits for organizations and social ostracism and firing for individuals. In the absence of obvious race-driven actions, many people have felt free to conclude that discrimination is at last waning, if not a thing of the past.

As social and behavioral scientists who focus on work organizations, we have an opportunity to inform the public about the reality of racism at work in all its dimensions – episodic, interpersonal, intergroup, institutional, and systemic. Just as teenager Darnella Frazier’s recording of the 2020 race-based killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police exposed people around the globe to the continued presence of racial discrimination in law enforcement, our scholarship can facilitate understanding of workplace racial discrimination in all its complexities and the identification of solutions to achieve social justice for all in the workplace. SIOP’s Anti-Racism Grants will offer funding to I-O professionals and their colleagues for projects to meet these goals. This is the first call for project proposals in what the SIOP Foundation expects to be a continuing series of grant competitions focused on racism in the workplace. The Anti-Racism Grants are an important addition to the SIOP Foundation’s existing support of research furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

Topics and Types of Projects

This is an open call for projects aimed at enlarging our understanding of racism in the workplace, its causes, and its reduction. Any research or project that contributes to the elimination or reduction of racial discrimination in the workplace will be considered. The goal of this grant program is to identify evidence-based solutions to the problems of racism in the workplace. Examples of topics include (but are not limited to) studies of the following:

  • Behaviors and actions of employees and managers that perpetuate or minimize racism or promote fairness and inclusion.
  • Human resource management systems that reward and punish employees differently as a function of race.
  • Individuals more (or less) inclined to discriminate and the impact this information can have on selection and training.
  • Factors that support organizational climates for discrimination and strategies for creating non-racist climates.
  • Attributes of organizational climates that are anti-racist and promote fairness and inclusion.
  • Characteristics of public servants who treat recipients (e.g., the public) of their services unfairly, and in some cases violently, due to race. This work could examine predictors of such behavior and individual, team, and organizational mechanisms to prevent such behavior.
  • Attributes of work environments that encourage racist behaviors.
  • Creation of effective teams that are racially diverse.
  • Reduction of group mean differences on cognitive ability tests.
  • Reduction of bias in predictors and criterion measures for job relevant behaviors

The form of projects is open. Below are examples of the types of projects that will be considered.

They are not definitive; they are meant only to be illustrations:

  • Basic Research
  • Technical Assistance Projects (in which SIOP experts collaborate with organizations to solve problems such as selection, training, employee engagement, and supervision)
  • Program and Project Evaluations (e. g, implicit bias training, inclusion initiatives)
  • Workshops and Webinars
  • Best Practice Compilations
  • Grounded-Theory Study of Experiencing Racism at Work
  • Benchmarking and Critical Reviews (e. g., HR policies and practices)
  • Evidence-Based Interventions (introduction of selection, training, cultural change, leadership development initiatives to reduce racism)

Multidisciplinary projects are encouraged as well as those that blend practice and research. Both qualitative and quantitative projects are encouraged. We will focus on race issues in the United States because this is where the pledge of liberty and justice for all is deeply enshrined in the history of the country and the beliefs of its citizens, and currently threatened. We will focus on applied psychology in the workplace because that is our domain.

We expect to receive more proposals than we will be able to fund.  As noted previously, we expect this Call to be the first in a series of grant competitions.  Although our primary purpose is to address systemic racism in organizations in all its manifestations and potential solutions, we plan to study all submissions as an aid to identifying a broad base of potential donors, including employers and corporate foundations, who might fund future initiatives. We hope the proposals we receive will stimulate a continuous cycle of evidence-based human resource management practices, not to mention additional funding.

Criteria for Evaluation of Project Proposals

The director of the project must be a SIOP Fellow, Member, Associate, or Student Affiliate. Proposals submitted by a Student Affiliate as the project director must include an endorsement from a SIOP Fellow or Member, preferably the student’s academic advisor.

The members of the Anti-Racism Grants Subcommittee of the SIOP Awards Committee will consider these criteria when evaluating proposed projects. The criteria are the extent to which the project:

  1. Increases understanding of workplace racial discrimination, including differences between access and inclusion.
  2. Provides practical guidance to organizations seeking to reduce racism, promote equal employment and advancement opportunities, or strengthen inclusion.
  3. Is technically adequate, meeting professional standards for internal validity, external validity, appropriate methodology, appropriate statistical analyses, comprehensiveness of review (if the project involves a literature review), and/or theoretical rigor and soundness.
  4. Is feasible.  The project can be completed with the funding available to the team and in approximately one year’s time.  (For the first grants, timelines should be no longer than one year.  Longer timeframes may be considered in the future.)  When necessary, research samples have been identified and can be obtained.

Submission Process

A SIOP Anti-Racism Grant requires submission of a compact proposal. The proposal should follow APA formatting guidelines and include the following sections:

  • Title with an abstract - Briefly outline what you plan to do and what resources you need
  • Rationale for the project – Identify the key issues to be addressed, background, and literature
  • Project design – Explain what the project entails.  Include information about samples, measures, data collection and analysis strategies as well as the specific steps to be taken as appropriate. 
  • Anticipated project outcomes – Specify what the project aims to accomplish and how success will be defined and measured. Discuss how your proposal integrates science and practice and specify the practical implications for organizations.
  • Key staff bios (100 words each) – Provide summaries of the professional backgrounds of the project team.
  • Project timeline – Include the start date, milestones, end date.
  • Budget and justification for expenditures of the grant funds – Provide the budget for the entire project, including staff time, resources, materials, and other expenses. Grant funds may not be used to pay for ancillary costs related to the project (publication or presentations at conferences, such as open access and registration/ travel costs).

The proposals should not exceed 10 pages of text (not including references, tables, appendices). The proposal should be double spaced and use a 12-point font and 1” margins. All components of the proposal must be included in a single document, either a Word document or a .pdf file.

 

All project directors who receive a grant must certify, by signature or other means (e.g., institutional review board or signed statement), that the project will be carried out in compliance with accepted professional and ethical standards concerning the treatment of human participants.

In addition, grant recipients must acknowledge that intellectual property resulting from the project will be owned by the SIOP Foundation and be available through a Creative Commons ShareAlike 4.0 license. If the proposed project is funded from additional sources, then the proposal must specify expectations for final disposition and rights of any resulting intellectual property. If the research requires measures that are the intellectual property of others, the project director should indicate that rights to use the measures have been obtained.

Anti-Racism Grants can be used in conjunction with other funding for a larger scale project. If this is the case, the proposal should describe the scope of the entire project, the entire budget, and the portion of the budget for which SIOP Foundation award money will be spent. If another funding organization has any claim to the results of the project, the project director should contact the SIOP Foundation to determine if intellectual property rights can be fairly allocated.

If there is an organizational partner for the project, it is strongly recommended that a letter recognizing this support is included in the grant submission package to indicate the partner’s commitment to the project.

Proposals will be evaluated by the Anti-Racism Grant Subcommittee of the SIOP Awards Committee, which will abide by all SIOP Awards Committee policies and procedures including freedom from conflicts of interest.

The maximum size of the SIOP Anti-Racism Grant is at present unknown. For the first Call for Anti-Racism Project Proposals, the fund pool size will be known and announced on July 15, 2020. Once proposals are reviewed, the maximum size of the grant(s) will be determined by the Anti-Racism Grants Subcommittee, e.g., winner take all, or winner and 2nd place, or the grant pool will be divided into smaller chunks. 

It is the explicit policy of the SIOP research grants that funds may not be used for overhead or indirect costs. Most universities will waive overhead and indirect costs under two circumstances: (a) the grant is relatively modest in size, and/or (b) the awarding institution (i.e., SIOP) does not allow it. If the above statement disallowing funds to be used for overhead is insufficient, the Foundation President will provide additional documentation explicitly stating this policy.

Proposals are due by 5:00 pm EDT, Monday, July 27 at https://www.siop.org/Foundation. The Anti-Racism Subcommittee of the SIOP Awards Committee may, at its discretion, request written answers from proposers to questions about the details of the proposal.

SIOP and the SIOP Foundation will work with grant recipients on communications with donors, the SIOP membership, and the public about winning projects. Grant recipients will be expected to adhere to the timeline submitted in the proposal and required to deliver progress reports to the SIOP Foundation on a quarterly basis until the project is complete. Awardees should be aware that a synopsis of their project will be placed on the SIOP web site. This synopsis will be of such a nature so as not to preclude subsequent publication of the work.

Schedule

  • Call for Anti-Racism Grant Project Proposals posted on Wednesday, July 15, 2020
  • Videoconference (optional) meeting for potential proposers at 2:00 pm EDT on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.
  • Proposals due by 5:00 pm EDT, Monday, July 27, 2020, at http://siop.org/Foundation
  • Winning project proposal(s) announced online on Monday, August 24, 2020

 

Questions

Questions about the SIOP Foundation Anti-Racism Grants and this initial grant competition should be emailed to SIOPFoundation@siop.org. Answers will be posted at http://siop.org/Foundation/ARG-FAQ.

A Zoom videoconference about the Anti-Racism Grant competition will be held at 2:00 pm EDT on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Its purposes will be to present an overview of the SIOP Foundation Anti-Racism Grant program and to respond to questions. The URL for this Zoom meeting is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84982068989. Any additional questions and replies arising during the videoconference meeting will be summarized and added to the posted answers.

References

Avery, D. R., Volpone, S. D., & Holmes, I. V. O. (2015). Racial discrimination in organizations. In A. J. Colella & E. B. King (Eds.), Oxford handbook of workplace discrimination (pp. 1–26). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Bertrand, M., & Mullainathan, S. (2004). Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination. American Economic Review, 94(4), 991-1013.

Colella, A., Hebl, M., & King, E. (2017). One hundred years of discrimination research in the Journal of Applied Psychology: A sobering synopsis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(3), 500–513. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000084

Cooper, H. (2020). https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/25/us/politics/military-minorities-leadership.html

King, E. B., Avery, D. R., & Sackett, P. (2013). Three perspectives of employment discrimination 50 years after the Civil Rights Act—a promise fulfilled? Journal of Business and Psychology, 28(4), 375-382.

King, E. B., Hebl, M. R., Botsford Morgan, W., & Ahmad, A. S. (2013). Field experiments on sensitive organizational topics. Organizational Research Methods, 16(4), 501-521.

NPR. (2020). https://www.npr.org/2020/06/25/883233406/black-economists-research-finds-a-blindspot-on-a-theory-of-innovation

 

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