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CEMA Wants to Be Here for You, Let Us Know How!

Kisha S. Jones

I am halfway into my 2-year position as chair of the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA), a SIOP committee that concentrates on attending to issues relevant to racial/ethnic minorities in SIOP and the I-O psychology field overall. CEMA is made up of a wonderful group of SIOP members from all racial/ethnic backgrounds who are interested in advancing this important work. I have enjoyed having the opportunity to serve SIOP and its ethnic minority community in this role. I have also appreciated the help that the SIOP office has provided to myself and the committee as we have attempted to reach our goals. One example of this support is their assistance in CEMA’s recent attempt to survey ethnic minority former SIOP members by adding additional items to the SIOP member exit survey. This information was collected by us to better understand how SIOP can serve its ethnic minority membership in the future. However, as I reviewed the anonymous responses to the question of how CEMA could have better supported them, I became concerned. Some of these ethnic minority former members mentioned that they had not heard of CEMA and wished that CEMA had better engaged them while they were a part of SIOP.


Although we had great interest among SIOP volunteers in joining CEMA and an awesome turn out at the CEMA Social Hour during the 2017 SIOP Conference, I still want to act in response to these comments so that CEMA can do its part in better engaging ethnic minorities in our field. One of my goals in my final year as CEMA chair is to increase CEMA’s presence within SIOP so that all ethnic minorities are aware of CEMA and have the option to be supported. One major way of doing this is by informing the larger SIOP community of what CEMA has been up to over the past year as well as our future plans. I am pleased to give a brief overview of the main projects that the communications, membership, and training subcommittees of CEMA will be focusing on in the 2017–2018 year.


CEMA’s communications subcommittee will focus on keeping SIOP informed of our initiatives and increasing CEMA’s overall visibility. Although this subcommittee will work to increase the extent to which SIOP members of all backgrounds are aware of CEMA, they will also share information that will be of use to ethnic minorities in SIOP and I-O. We hope to support them and ensure that there is open dialogue between us all. One way that CEMA has already been working towards this goal is through our Facebook group. This group was created a few years ago and continues to thrive as the more than 200 members discuss and share articles related to race/ethnicity in the workplace and in our society as a whole. Over the next year, the communications subcommittee will continue to manage this group, reach out to SIOP members through other social media outlets, and lead CEMA’s efforts in contributing regularly to TIP.


CEMA’s membership subcommittee will continue our work from last year in finding ways for SIOP and CEMA to better serve its ethnic minority members. This subcommittee will continue to survey past and current ethnic minority SIOP members and use the responses to shape future CEMA initiatives. The aforementioned responses from ethnic minorities who filled out the SIOP exit survey suggest that more outreach and support is needed, and our current initiatives reflect that call. Our additional data collections will help in developing more specific ways that SIOP and CEMA can meet the needs of its racial/ethnic minority members who are students, practitioners, and academics at early-, mid-, and late-career stages.  

Related to this, the training subcommittee will work towards providing career-relevant assistance to ethnic minority SIOP members. One way we have accomplished this in the past has been through organizing useful sessions at the SIOP conferences related to research, practice, education, and relevant societal concerns. In addition to this, the subcommittee will focus on student members by overseeing CEMA’s student mentoring program. This program, starting this summer, will be open to graduate students in I-O who are from racial/ethnic groups that are currently underrepresented in our field. As we work to meet the needs of our student members, we hope to support them in their preparation for academic or applied jobs, and lay the foundation for their continued investment in and engagement with SIOP over the course of their careers.


It is important to note that these goals will not only be achieved through the hard work of CEMA, and the previously mentioned support from the SIOP office, but also through partnerships with other SIOP committees. Our previous work in collecting data with the SIOP exit survey was done in collaboration with SIOP’s Membership Committee. SIOP’s Education and Training Committee will assist us in implementing our student mentoring program. SIOP’s Electronics Committee and Content Initiative Task Force have been providing great resources for connecting us with the SIOP membership. In addition, we have and will continue working with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) and Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) Committees in order to support their efforts and attend to the intersectional needs present across the SIOP members our groups serve.


In closing, I remember joining SIOP as an undergraduate student learning about I-O psychology. As I have progressed through my undergraduate, graduate, and faculty experiences, many amazing individuals in SIOP have greatly impacted my career journey by freely sharing information and providing guidance. Through CEMA, I want to ensure that other racial/ethnic minorities have that same chance and are able to be encouraged in their pursuit of the career paths they desire. Racial/ethnic diversity in SIOP is essential to our goal of using science to understand and impact workplaces in the United States and around the world. I want all current and future SIOP members to know about CEMA, especially the racial/ethnic minorities we seek to serve. CEMA want to be here for you, let us know how!


For more information about CEMA, to join the CEMA Facebook group, to find out more about the student mentoring program, and/or to share suggestions you have for CEMA, please email me at kisha.jones@psu.edu.

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