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Highlights of 2023 APA Conference and August Council of Representatives Meeting

Jeff McHenry

APA Conference

The American Psychological Association held its annual convention in Washington, DC, on August 3–5. There were several outstanding sessions of interest to SIOP members and featuring SIOP speakers. These included

  • Main stage event on flourishing at work moderated by Derek Thompson, writer for The Atlantic, and featuring Amy Edmondson of Harvard University, APA CEO Arthur Evans, and SIOP members Courtney Bryant Shelby of Simply You Solutions and Vivian Woo of CultureAmp. The session was high energy and well-attended. It was an outstanding forum for sharing workplace psychology and science with over 1,000 APA members from a wide spectrum of psychology disciplines.
  • A presidential keynote address by SIOP President Tara Behrend on the future of work.
  • Numerous sessions on organizational resilience and workplace well-being. This was a wonderful opportunity to share I-O science and best practices with psychologists in leadership roles across a wide range of settings (healthcare, national security, law enforcement, academia, research institutions) who are eager to learn from us about leadership and organizational effectiveness.
  • Many other excellent sessions on coaching, ethics, vocational counseling, and other topics, many developed in partnership with allied disciplines and APA divisions.
  • A poster that was cosubmitted by SIOP members Leslie Hammer and Jenn Dimoff was selected as the APA overall 1st place poster submission.

Mohr, C. D., Hammer, L. B., Dimoff, J., Lee, J. D., Arpin, S., Umemoto, S. K., Allen, S., Brockwood, K., Bodner, T., Mahoney, L., & Dretsch, M. N. (2023, August). Supportive-leadership training: A key component of a national strategy to reduce loneliness. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

Kudos to SIOP’s APA Program Chair Alyssa McGonagle for organizing a wonderful program.

Next year’s APA Convention is in Seattle on August 8–10, 2024. The Program Chair will be Jennifer Wessel (jwessel@umd.edu). If you have ideas for the program, she welcomes your suggestions.

APA Council of Representatives Meeting

APA’s Council of Representatives is APA’s policymaking body. It functions similarly to the U.S. Congress. It includes 187 members total. SIOP’s 2023 representatives to APA Council are Tammy Allen, Gary Carter, and Jeff McHenry.

Council met August 1–3, 2023. Several resolutions of interest and relevance to SIOP were on the agenda:

  • Child and adolescent employment. Because of labor shortages, many states are considering laws that would significantly weaken child labor laws. The proposed changes being considered and promoted in some instances by restaurant and other industry groups would permit children as young as 14 to work in meatpacking plants, remove limits to overtime work for children, and allow 16- and 17-year olds to work at construction sites. Meantime, the Department of Labor has seen a surge in employers illegally hiring migrant children to do physically demanding and dangerous work. Unfortunately, there is remarkably little research on the impact of work on children or guidance for employers on how to make work a positive, healthy experience for children, but there is of course much evidence that many children experience significant stress from the many demands placed on them, especially those living in precarious economic situations. The resolution passed by council calls for states to proceed cautiously and make children’s health and well-being a primary consideration as they consider new laws. It also calls for support for additional research on the impact of employment on school-age children. Mary Ann McCabe (mamccabe@apaboard.org), who is a member of APA’s Board of Directors, welcomes input and support from SIOP members with expertise and interest in child labor.
  • Standards for operational psychologists. Operational psychologists work in military and national security and public safety settings. They assess individuals being hired into safety and security roles, participate in investigations and interrogations, help monitor and guide teams engaged in high-stress operations, and support individuals who have participated in traumatic activities. This is a long-standing specialty. Many events that have taken place during the past 2 decades have highlighted the need for guidelines. During the debate over the guidelines, some council members expressed concerns about past abuses by some operational psychologists in interrogations and torture and whether the guidelines provided sufficient ethical guidance on how operational psychologists balance between concern for individual and societal well-being. Despite these concerns, the guidelines were passed by a two-thirds vote.
  • Equitable and inclusive admissions in higher education. In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling that outlawed race-based admissions practices, council approved a resolution supporting inclusive admissions practices. The resolution called for an end to legacy admissions and exploration of (research on) holistic admissions practices that would support equitable and inclusive admissions criteria and practices.
  • Agenda Planning Committee. Each spring, APA holds an in-person meeting of all boards and committees that report to the Board of Directors. The purpose of this meeting is to enable boards and committees to work together in-person on items of mutual interest. The agenda for that is developed by an Agenda Planning Committee that includes a representative from each board/committee. During the last year, APA has approved two new committees, including the Committee for the Advancement of General Applied Psychology (CAGAP). The establishment of CAGAP provides an avenue for increasing the influence of applied psychology in general and I-O psychology in particular within APA. Many SIOP members were deeply involved in the proposal to create CAGAP, and the initial nine-person committee will include two SIOP members (Gena Cox and Vivien Lee). Council approved a change to association rules to provide for a CAGAP representative to participate on the Agenda Planning Committee.
  • Fellowship. During the vote to approve new APA Fellows, the council agreed that current APA bylaws regarding council review and approval of master’s-trained Fellow nominees are intrusive. The council asked the Membership Board to study and recommend a streamlined, less intrusive process.
  • APA Strategic Plan. APA updates its strategic plan every 5 years. The current strategic plan, adopted in 2019, called on APA to increase its efforts to communicate what our science has to say about key social issues and advocate for science-informed policy decisions. The strategic plan also called for greater engagement with applied psychologists, noting that many are studying issues and practicing in settings that are critical to society (e.g., well-being and performance in work organizations, impact of social media and advanced technology on individuals). APA is scheduled to adopt a new strategic plan in 2024. We received an update on the many surveys, focus groups, and studies that have been conducted thus far. If you’re an APA member, it’s likely you will be asked to provide input to the strategic plan in the next 3–6 months. Council Rep Tammy Allen is on the Strategic Plan Advisory Group and welcomes feedback and thoughts from SIOP members.

Finally, we were delighted to join in the celebration of former APA President Sandy Shullman when she received APA’s Raymond D. Fowler Award for Outstanding Contributions to APA. The award recognizes an APA member who has had a significant and enduring impact on APA as an organization and who has shown a clear dedication to advancing APA’s mission. Sandy has been very active in the Society for Consulting Psychologist and is also a SIOP member. She has been an extremely strong advocate for greater inclusion of I-O and other applied psychology disciplines in APA. Many of us in SIOP have had the opportunity to work closely with her on a wide range of issues: inclusion of I-O psychology in textbooks, standards for executive coaches, the science of DEI, and how APA can help prepare society for the future of work. We congratulate Sandy on this well-deserved honor.

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