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Jenny Baker

From SIOP Into the World: The SIOP United Nations International Team

Ines Meyer, University of Cape Town; Stuart Carr, Massey University;Lori Foster, North Carolina State University; Aimee Lace, Columbia University; & Drew Mallory, KU Leuven

On September 25, 2015 the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) adopted a landmark resolution titled “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (United Nations General Assembly, 2015). The first resolution adopted by the General Assembly during its 70th session, this document provides a plan of action in support of people, planet, and prosperity worldwide by outlining 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be accomplished in the years leading up to 2030. 

There is no question that the world of work has the capacity to stimulate or impede the development of people, planet, and prosperity across the globe. SIOP has long recognized this, as have others within and outside of the UN. Accordingly, SIOP has been working hard to bring industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology theory, research, and best practices to the UN in support of its mandates. As many TIP readers are aware, SIOP’s UN team has been devoted to this very mission for a number of years now. This team is enabled through SIOP’s accreditation as an NGO with consultative status to ECOSOC, the UN’s Economic and Social Council.

Historically, the UN team has consisted of five SIOP members (scientists and practitioners) as well as interns, whose badging privileges give them access to the UN’s New York City headquarters, where most of their activity is focused. The work of this team has been well received and has been chronicled in regular TIP columns along the way.

In April 2019, at the opening plenary of SIOP’s annual conference, President Talya Bauer announced an exciting new development in SIOP’s efforts to effect positive change through the world of work: the global expansion of SIOP’s UN team. In this article, we are pleased to tell you more about this development and introduce the team.

In October 2018, the SIOP UN team expanded its membership by creating and launching the SIOP UN International Team, with its badging privileges at the United Nations in Geneva. Since its formation, the International Team has been working on creating linkages between I-O psychology and the work of the United Nations, with an eye toward building connections with UN colleagues and initiatives outside of North America. How could our expertise in I-O psychology benefit the work of the United Nations, particularly in realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals? This is one of the questions at the forefront of the International Team’s agenda. We also seek to create and disseminate information about opportunities available for I-O psychology at the UN’s worldwide agencies. In this, we benefit greatly from the invaluable groundwork laid by the corresponding US-based team. Unlike the SIOP UN team in North America, and as the name suggests, the International Team includes SIOP members from around the world who share a variety of experiences working at—and with—the United Nations.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aimee Lace, featured in the January 2019 column of TIP, is studying toward her PhD at Columbia University in New York City.  Prior to that, she worked for the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in Geneva, and she periodically consults on UNITAR projects alongside her studies.

 

Lori Foster, a member of both the North America and International teams, is professor of I-O Psychology at North Carolina State University and head of Behavioral Science at pymetrics. She recently completed posts as a Fellow with the Obama White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, and as a Behavioral Sciences Advisor to the United Nations.

Drew Mallory is a researcher and expert advisor for inclusion policy at KU Leuven. Prior to earning his PhD from Purdue University, Drew was an intern with SIOP’s North America-based UN team. Like Lori, Drew is helping provide continuity between the North America and International Teams during these early days, to help realize synergies, and coordinate efforts.

Stuart Carr specializes in applying organizational psychology in poverty reduction and eradication.  His career started at the University of Malawi and has brought him to a number of countries from there. He is now based at Massey University in New Zealand. 

Finally, organizational psychologist Ines Meyer is holder of the National Research Foundation’s South African Research Chair in Creation of Decent Work and Sustainable Livelihood at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Prior to her role in academia, she worked for an NGO involved in strengthening the management capacity of community-based organizations in South Africa.

To date, the International Team has held monthly virtual meetings, carefully balancing multiple time zones and a small window of opportunity during which it is possible for all to meet outside the early hours of the night. The International Labour Organization’s 6th Regulating for Decent Work Conference in Geneva will be the first opportunity for the team to get together face-to-face at the beginning of July 2019. Under the theme Work and Well-Being in the 21st Century, this conference brings together researchers from areas including economics, development studies, sociology—and this year, I-O psychology. Stuart Carr and his team will be presenting one way in which I-O psychology can inform national and international policy. Their work, conducted under the banner of Project GLOW (Global Living Organizational Wage), describes an alternative way of determining the income level individuals required to be able to live decent lives and work lives. The GLOW network is advocating for a move away from determining this amount econometrically, based on the cost of items considered essential. Instead, they have been able to show that it is possible to determine a minimum income amount required for individuals to prosper, based on individuals’ subjective experiences of well-being. Human thriving and well-being, of course, are concepts at the heart of I-O psychology.

At this year’s World Economic Forum, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced that going forward her country’s budget will no longer be informed solely by economic and fiscal concerns, but also by wellbeing concerns. Well-being indicators are being used to mark progress, weighing equally as strong as gross domestic product (GDP) in determining the country’s advancement. This illustrates that the potential for I-O psychologists to provide important policy advice is growing, and with it our scope of work beyond the corporate environment.

Living wages are but one example of the areas that the SIOP UN-International Team is working to advance. Like the team’s other priorities, this area relates directly to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Not only are living wages a component of SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Development), but they also connect to other SDGs, including but not limited to SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities).

SIOP’s UN International Team looks forward to the opportunity to build additional bridges between SIOP and UN initiatives around the world in the days to come. Any SIOP member interested in becoming involved with the work of the SIOP UN teams (North America or International) or with ideas about future focus areas for the teams can get in contact with us by accessing the “Volunteering” button on our homepage on SIOP’s website (http://www.siop.org/Membership/Volunteering).

 

Reference
 

United Nations General Assembly (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development, A/RES/70/1. Retrieved from  http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E

Author Note

The SIOP UN Committee is supported by the efforts of the following committee members, interns, and emeritus volunteers: Stuart Carr, Lori Foster, Dan Maday, Drew Mallory, Ines Meyer, Julie Olson-Buchanan (Chair), Mathian Osicki, Mark Poteet, Walter Reichman, Deborah Rupp, Lise Saari, John C. Scott, and Nabila Sheikh.

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