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Amber Stark

Member Spotlight: Ho Kwan Cheung, PhD

Position/Employer: Assistant Professor of Psychology, University at Albany, SUNY

Interest area(s): Diversity and discrimination in the workplace, work–family interface, employee well-being

What sparked your interest in I-O psychology? I have always been interested in understanding how people of diverse backgrounds interact with each other, and the workplace is a setting that is of particular import because (a) people spend substantial amount of their resources devoted to their work and (b) there are major economic implications. I particularly resonate with SIOP’s mission that performance and well-being are both important outcomes of interest within our field.

What role do you see I-O psychology playing in the future of work? The world of work has been rapidly evolving, and the ongoing pandemic is only the latest example of it. One consistent theme that has emerged is that the “human” element has only increased in importance as labor becomes increasingly specialized/highly skilled and individuals gain more autonomy to shape work according to their preferences/desires, so I-O psychology plays an important role in guiding our practices in how to manage the workforce balancing both productivity and justice/ well-being.

Which of the Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2021 do you most strongly relate to and how can I-O psychology practitioners, educators, and students impact this trend?
The two interrelated themes that I relate the most to are “social justice” and “employee health, well-being, wellness, and safety.” Ensuring diversity, inclusion, and equity in organizational settings is both a business and humanitarian issue. Research has consistently shown that failure to promote inclusion and equity is related to not only economic consequences but also detrimental health/ well-being effects. Therefore, it falls to I-O psychology professionals to use our science to advance social justice and ensure wellness for all, not just some, employees. We must ensure our practices both within our organization (e.g., when interacting with our colleagues) as well as the work tasks, whether a research project, teaching a class, or consulting with a client, are consistent with the evidence-based practices.

How long have you been a SIOP member? Since 2014

What roles have you had within SIOP? Like most people, I started out as a student member. For the past few years, I’ve been serving on the Friday Seminar committee. I organized a seminar on the intersection of social media and HR practices in 2019, and for the 2021 SIOP Annual Conference, I organized one on allyship skills. In addition, I am also part of the climate subcommittee of WIN (Women’s Inclusion Network), working on understanding diversity climate within our profession. I am also a member of other diversity-oriented committees such as CEMA and LGBT.

What is one of your favorite SIOP Annual Conference memories/highlights? My birthday is late April, so it is often during the SIOP Annual Conference or at least right after or before it. It makes for a good celebration that I get to go visit a different locale every year and reunite with close colleagues/friends that I do not otherwise get to see most of the year. The best description of the conference I have ever heard is “summer camp for I-O psychologists”!

What advice would you give to students or early practitioners? Good ideas often do not emerge from sitting alone in your office. Connect and talk with your colleagues, and SIOP is a one perfect way to do it.

Please share one non-I-O-related bit of information about yourself. I am an avid hobby baker and enjoy feeding my lab with cookies and cakes. I can make 11 different types of chocolate chip cookies!

Is there anything you would like to add? Kudos to all the I-O psychologists out there for weathering all the unique workplace challenges that 2020 brought us! But those of you who did not feel like you “made the most” out of this year (e.g. did not gain a new hobby, did not do a COVID-related project), know that simply surviving is itself an accomplishment!

Last, I am always open to having new collaborators on any projects related to diversity, discrimination, and work–family interface! Currently, I have a particular interest in doing more work to understand experiences of Asian Americans in the workplace as well as workplace policies for people with mental illnesses.

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