Amber Stark

SIOP Seeks Volunteers for Ombudsperson Program

For the first time, the SIOP Executive Board is seeking two professional members to serve as ombudspersons for the SIOP community, in accordance with the SIOP Anti-Harassment Policy.

SIOP President Steven Rogelberg states, “This is a unique and important volunteer opportunity to help ensure a safe, inclusive, and professional environment for all SIOP members and those who engage in SIOP activities.”

SIOP ombudspersons are SIOP members who have received special training on harassment, options for informal resolution and formal complaint under the policy, and the role of an ombud. Their primary function is to offer advice that is informal, impartial, and independent. They do not make decisions or judgments. They can advise on options for informal resolution and formal complaint, explain the complaint processes, and assist with mediation.

“The ombudspersons will help bolster our efforts to be inclusive and encourage belongingness. It is exciting to consider all the benefits that will come with the addition of this role,” says SIOP Diversity and Inclusion Officer Derek Avery.

About the Ombudsperson Role:

  • This is the first time SIOP will be having members serve in this role; therefore, it is expected that the selected ombudpersons will assist in shaping the role and will adapt to changing demands of the role as more is learned about how the role will serve the SIOP community.
  • The time commitment may vary. Some months there may be no activity at all. At other times, there may be multiple concurrent situations necessitating the services of the ombudspersons. Given the nature of the work, there is no way to determine how many hours this volunteer role will require.
  • Ombudspersons may be called upon for assistance during SIOP events, such as the Annual Conference, and at times outside of normal business hours. 
  • Although incidences of harassment are expected to be infrequent, the ombudspersons will need to avail themselves in an on-call manner and commit to responsiveness to and thoughtful consideration of those seeking their assistance.
  • The ombudspersons will be publicly named on the SIOP web site and may be identified in other SIOP communications, alongside other SIOP volunteer leaders (e.g., Executive Board, Committee Chairs) and staff.
  • Initial and ongoing training will be required to ensure the ombudspersons are prepared to advise and assist on matters of harassment, in accordance with the SIOP Anti-Harassment Policy.
  • Situations involving harassment can be emotional, disturbing, or ambiguous, and can sometimes involve law enforcement or legal counsel. Ombudspersons should be prepared to deal with difficult, complex, and sensitive situations, although they will never be called upon to make disciplinary judgments or dispense legal advice.
  • The SIOP community is small, and it is possible that the ombudspersons may know the complainant(s) and/or the accused in incidences of harassment. Ombudspersons will need to exercise discretion and sound judgement in determining conflicts of interest and communicating such concerns to SIOP leadership, without compromising the confidentiality assured to those who have approached the ombudsperson(s) for guidance.

A SIOP Ombudsperson Must:

  • Maintain paid SIOP professional membership (Fellow, Member, Associate, or Retired) in good standing for the length of service as ombudsperson
  • Be willing to attend the SIOP Annual Conference, or be available virtually for on-call matters, for the length of service as an ombudsperson
  • Not be currently serving on the SIOP Executive Board
  • Commit to preserving confidentiality on all matters 

For Our Ombudspersons, SIOP Will:

  • Fund an International Ombudsman Association membership, or equivalent, for each ombudsperson during each year of their term (valued at approximately $200 per person annually).
  • Fund training for each ombudsperson, such as one-time participation in the IOA Foundations Course, or equivalent, early in each ombudsperson’s term, unless similar training has already been received (valued at approximately $1,700 per person).
  • Provide an official SIOP.org email address and other tools as needed to facilitate the work of the ombudspersons.

Application Process

Submit the following documents to Executive Director Tracy Vanneman at tvanneman@siop.org by November 10, 2021. Please include “SIOP Ombudsperson Application” in the email subject line:

  • Cover letter detailing your interest in and qualifications for this volunteer role
    • Prior anti-harassment and/or ombuds role training and/or experience is preferred, but not required.
  • Current resume/CV
  • Self-statement disclosing if any organization, including SIOP (a) is currently investigating you for any matter, or (b) has in the past found you responsible for misconduct prohibited by the SIOP Anti-Harassment Policy.

Applications will be reviewed by the SIOP President, President-Elect, and Past-President (i.e., the Presidential Trio). The Presidential Trio reserves the right to schedule follow up interviews, seek additional information, and/or request references while considering ombudsperson applications.

The Presidential Trio will appoint the ombudspersons and inform the Executive Board of the rationale for their selection decisions by December 31, 2021.

Given this is the first instance of recruiting for these roles, the terms will be staggered. Ombudsperson #1 will serve an extended 4-year term from January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2025. Ombudsperson #2 will serve a 3-year term from January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2024. After these initial terms conclude, it is expected that future ombudspersons will serve a standard 3-year term. It will be at the discretion of the future Presidential Trio whether to issue open calls for volunteers for this role or to reappoint ombudspersons for additional terms of service upon the conclusion of terms.

Questions? Please contact Tracy Vanneman at tvanneman@siop.org or 419-353-0032.

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