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News From the SIOP United Nations Committee: Congratulations to George Mason I-O for Becoming a United Nations Global Compact Participant!

SIOP United Nations Committee

SIOP plays a special role as an official nongovernmental organization (NGO) with consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The SIOP-UN committee organizes all of SIOP’s UN-related efforts, including projects in support of the UN Sustainability Goals, and the submission of (requested) statements on issues pertinent to work and organizations (e.g., the aging workforce, living wages, humanitarian work psychology, and the economic empowerment of underrepresented women and girls). As part of this work, SIOP has also become an official United Nations Global Compact participant. This means we have formally signed on to 10 humanitarian/sustainability principles surrounding human rights, labor, environment, and anticorruption.


SIOP has since launched a campaign to help SIOP members advocate to their employers to also sign on to this voluntary code of conduct. A toolkit has been developed to assist those working for organizations, as well as for I-O graduate training programs.

We are pleased to announce that the I-O program at George Mason University has officially become a Global Compact participant. SIOP-UN Representative Deborah E. Rupp caught up with GMU I-O Professor Eden King to talk about their application process, as well as their UNGC-supporting activities:


DER: Congratulations on Mason I-O becoming a United Nations Global Compact participant! It's wonderful to see I-O graduate programs signing on the 10 Principles in support of decent work for all.

EK: Thank you! We are really proud to be a small part of the larger efforts to achieve a better world. It's inspiring to see how I-O psychologists have a role to play in supporting human rights, labor, the environment, and anti-corruption practices.

DER: Indeed. So, being an official Global Compact participant means that the I-O program is committing to engage in activities that are in the spirit of the 10 Principles. I know when Purdue applied, it was exciting for us to take the time to both think about the things we were already doing as a program that aligned with the principles, as well as what sorts of new things we might do going forward. What is the Mason program already doing and what does it plan to do that is consistent with the 10 Principles?

EK: When we sat down to think about it, we realized that a lot of our efforts outside of the classroom are very much aligned with the principles. For example, Mason graduate students serve as pro-bono consultants in the Volunteer Program Assessment process, which directly supports the efforts of nonprofits across the country. As another example, the scholarship of faculty and students at Mason directly addresses concerns about social inequalities manifested in the workplace and strategies for improving the well-being of workers. Where we have room to grow, I think, is in the ways that we bring the principles into classroom instruction and discussion. I'm hopeful that we will be more purposeful in our initiations of conversations that pertain directly and indirectly to the Global Compact 10 Principles.

DER: This all sounds wonderful. One goal we set for ourselves was to have at least one brownbag speaker a year present research that connects either to the 10 Principles or the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Similar to your account, once we took a look back, we realized we have been doing this all along, with speakers presenting on topics such as diversity, corporate social responsibility, humanitarian work psychology, and the like. Even still, setting a formal goal to keep doing this feels right--to continually remind ourselves of our ethical obligations as psychologists working within or studying organizations.

EK: Very cool and very "meta"—using I-O psychology (goal setting) to help I-O psychology improve the world!


DER: (Smiles.) I hope (Edwin) Locke and (Gary) Latham are reading this. So let's talk a little about the nuts and bolts of applying to be a UN Global Compact participant. How did you all go about the task? Any lessons learned along the way that would be helpful for other programs wanting to follow in your footsteps?


EK: The SIOP UN Committee’s toolkit made it very easy for us! We used many documents as templates to modify for our purposes. For example, we adapted the communication that Purdue used with their dean to correspond with our dean. As another example, we mirrored the application form directly after the example on the SIOP website. The major distinction between our process and the one described on the website was that our university is already a signatory of the Global Compact. This means that George Mason as an institution has already signed on. It turns out that our president was one of the folks who helped to shape academic institutions' participation in the Global Compact! So we had to figure out how to frame our application to indicate our separate yet related support of the 10 Principles.


DER: That is awesome! So will the I-O program be coordinating Principle-consistent efforts at the university level? The university must be very happy about your grassroots efforts. Any intersection of activities?


EK: I think the university will be able to cite our program’s participation in the Global Compact as evidence of its involvement; I imagine that we will be able to describe the work of the I-O program in the university’s biannual report to the UN.


DER: That’s great. Anything else you’d like to share with the SIOP community about GMU and the Global Compact?


EK: I would say that we are proud to be one of the first I-O programs to join the Global Compact, but we would be even more excited if every I-O program decided to participate. Ultimately, our impact will be strengthened through a shared commitment to the 10 Principles.


More information about the George Mason I-O program can be found here. More information about SIOP’s UN Efforts can be found here. The SIOP UN Committee encourages SIOP members to reach out to us for support with joining the Global Compact and would love to hear from both new and old Global Compact participants.

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