SIOP’s New Frontiers Include Everybody
Bharati B. Belwalkar, Charles P.R. Scott, and Lisa S. Moore
Author Note: We would like to thank Kisha Jones (CEMA Chair), Katina Sawyer (LGBT Chair), and Aditi Raghuram and Mindy Bergman (WIN Co-chairs) for letting us share our experiences and views.
True to the 2017 theme of Exploring New Frontiers, SIOP attendees explored new and insightful research and best practices in various areas of I-O psychology. We are sure that all of you enjoyed your time meeting experts face to face, learning new things, and networking. SIOP is also a fantastic place to reconnect with friends from graduate school. Well, this article is a product of such reconnection and informal conversation at SIOP among three of us.
We are a part of SIOP’s minority-serving groups: the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA), the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Committee, and the newly formed Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) Committee. Here, we share our perspectives and experiences with these committees, including: (a) how we became involved with them and (b) how those committees are carrying the torch of equality forward. We are sharing this with our readers for three reasons: (a) to inform SIOP members (especially students and recent graduates) about our committees and their agendas, (b) to arouse interest and excitement in joining or supporting our committees, and (c) to call for a continuation (and increase) of the collaborations between our respective committees.
Our committees have different timelines; one committee has a long legacy reaching back as far as early 1990s while another is less than 100 days old. Given this, the styles, tones, and approaches that we draw upon to highlight the ongoing efforts of our respective communities are markedly different.
SIOP CEMA: Then and Now1
Bharati B. Belwalkar
City of New Orleans
In 2009, I came to the U.S. from India for graduate training. When I arrived, I assumed new identities: international student, outsider, and minority member. I slowly realized that the word minority in the United States has a very special meaning. Although I was aware of the U.S. Civil Rights movement and (its considerably strained) race relations through books and news, it was a different experience, as an outsider, to witness America under the administration of its first Black president, Barack Obama, and to fathom what it meant for the future of race relations in this country. I noticed an evolving dynamic of race relations in this country. In no time, I became an insider to the race relations as an Asian foreign student.
Diversity composition has been rapidly altering the U.S. workforce. As an I-O graduate student, I began to understand how important diversity considerations are to workforce management practices. I soon became interested in the area of diversity. As one of the few students working in this area within my department, I turned to SIOP for more information.
In 2015, I attended a community of interest (COI) session hosted by Mikki Hebl and Enrica Ruggs on the role of I-O psychology in reducing policing inequity (this was a year after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri). This session was particularly noteworthy, because it drew my attention to inclusion, which, in my view, is as important as diversity. As I write this, I recall a phrase I had read somewhere “diversity is being invited to the party, but inclusion is being asked to dance.” Toward the end of this session, co-chair Hebl mentioned CEMA and SIOP’s commitment to diversity and inclusion within its membership (practicing what we preach). I thought, CEMA and its initiatives were worth exploring, and a year later, I became a member of CEMA. Postgraduation, I moved to New Orleans, a melting pot of French, African, and many other cultures. Since then, my interest in diversity and inclusion has quadrupled. One of my purposes behind coauthoring this piece with Lisa and Charlie is to spread the word about CEMA and get more people interested in its initiatives. So, those who do not know about CEMA, here’s a quick introduction.
To give you a brief tour of the history of CEMA, its inception can be traced back to the SIOP task force on Ethnic Minority Participation (1991-1995) cochaired by Loriann Roberson and Jeff McHenry. This task force was a result of a widespread sense of isolation (then) felt among SIOP members belonging to minority groups. A roundtable conversation at SIOP 1996 cochaired by Jim Outtz and Beth Chung gave rise to an ad hoc CEMA. The ad hoc CEMA's primary goal was (and still is) diversity and inclusion—that is, to attract, retain, and integrate ethnic minorities into SIOP. Later, in 2004, CEMA became a standing committee. The same year, SIOP began conducting CEMA business meetings and social hours at the annual conference. Having attended these events in the past, I can say that they provide a great opportunity to connect with other I-Os who are passionate about diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
This year, CEMA’s business meeting involved a discussion about CEMA’s mission, structure, and future plans. Attendees were divided in three groups to brainstorm ideas for supporting racial/ethnic minority membership in SIOP, social media presence, and facilitating research/training initiatives. We received some good ideas!
Since early 2000, CEMA has been working with the SIOP Conference Program Committee to develop CEMA-sponsored sessions at the conferences. Keeping the tradition alive, this year’s CEMA members, Sabrina Volpone and Katharine O’Brien, conducted a panel discussion entitled Work With Me: Practitioner Perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion Research. The panelists discussed at length the ways in which CEMA can promote research partnerships between academics and practitioners to help facilitate the study of diversity issues in organizations.
One of the greatest achievements of this year’s CEMA events was the first awarding of the James L. Outtz Grant for Student Research on Diversity. The inaugural recipient of this grant was Carlos Moreno from Rice University. His research project is entitled Promoting First-Generation Latino Success through Parental Pro-Educational Interventions. When asked how he felt about winning this grant, Carlos said:
[I am] very happy to receive this award. Thanks to Dr. Outtz for his work and CEMA! [This is a] wonderful recognition for diversity research and practice.
The present committee has goals of increasing the visibility of CEMA, supporting ethnic minorities (especially students) in SIOP, and both facilitating and disseminating research on racial/ethnic minorities in the workplace. When asked about her vision for CEMA, Kisha Jones (CEMA Chair) said:
My vision is for CEMA to help SIOP by serving as a model for applying diversity science at all career stages in order to support ethnic minorities in our field. We are working to build on the foundation that has been previously set, while also meeting the current needs of ethnic minority members in SIOP. The level of interest in CEMA from members — both ethnic minorities and allies — suggests that our future plans will be met with great success!
Needless to say, we are working tirelessly to kick off some exciting initiatives, and I am certain you will hear about them soon. If you are interested in working towards any of these goals and/or have any ideas to share, feel free to share them on our Facebook page or e-mail us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SIOP LGBT Committee: SIOP as a Safe Space
Charles P. R. Scott
It has been almost exactly 11 months, as I write this, since the Pulse shooting in Orlando shook the LGBT community to its core. As a gay man from the Orlando region, I woke on the morning of June 12 to dozens of text messages, phone calls, and emails begging for some response from people from around the country and the world asking if I was alright. It was that same day I learned that several people I knew had been killed, and 2 days later I was moving across the country to start my first postgraduate position. The LGBT community and our friends, family, and allies have grieved for nearly a full year. The constant vigilance when out with friends, the taking inventory of exits and escape routes, and the raw hurt of loss have all begun to fade with time.
Yet less than 2 years after gay marriage was made legal throughout the United States, the atmosphere of our country continues to feel threatening and dangerous, especially for our most vulnerable community members: LGBT people of color and transgendered individuals. This is why I am so grateful for the greater SIOP community for showing compassion, empathy, and a desire to protect and honor its vulnerable LGBT members. This was made immediately clear when Mort McPhail asked for a moment of silence for the victims of the Pulse attack in his opening plenary. At its core, SIOP is a group of practitioners and researchers focused on the science of the workplace. With no obligation to do so, SIOP has been wholeheartedly supportive of its LGBT members and the broader community. Jeff Hughes, the Executive Director of SIOP, attended the SIOP LGBT Committee’s business meeting to show his support—and the support of SIOP—for our committee. In that meeting, Gina Duncan (of Equality Florida Action, Inc.) discussed the vital role SIOP can play in the mission for transgender equality. This has been a difficult year for minority communities, and I couldn’t be prouder of the way SIOP has stepped up to defend and support vulnerable minorities of every category and group.
Returning to Orlando was difficult for me. But immediately upon arrival to the conference hotel, I saw friends I’ve gotten to know over a half decade of SIOPs, and my trepidation faded. The SIOP LGBT Committee has been especially active this year too. We raised money for the Dru Project, and hosted two events: a social hour in the Dolphin and a happy hour sponsored by The Walt Disney World Resort. Both events were packed full of members of the LGBT community as well as allies and supporters, all celebrating our community and life. During these events, I met many new members of SIOP, and I witnessed our community embrace them and give them a safe space during SIOP. It is hard to forget that SIOP can seem monumental and overwhelming for first timers. To have a safe space to be themselves and to also begin to learn the networking and other professional skills they will need in the future is a huge benefit for LGBT newcomers. If their experience with SIOP is anything like mine, these formative experiences will help them build resources to launch a successful professional (or academic) career.
Opponents of equality seek to marginalize minorities, to make us feel frightened or unwelcome, and make us disappear. But SIOP, and especially the SIOP LGBT community and our allies, fights back by continuing to broaden our coalition of support, to educate people about diversity, and to showcase our universal humanity. SIOP 2017, in many ways, was a celebration for humanity’s diversity in a world that can seem to be growing colder and less interested in diversity.
We’re making progress on building that coalition. There is a greater push towards collaboration among SIOP’s minority committees. This year, CEMA and the LGBT committee collaborated to present a COI session, Shooting and Hate Crime: How I-Os Can Help and Support, with Kecia Thomas and Brian Roote. The discussion revolved around how I-O psychology can help organizations and employees cope with the violence towards LGBT and ethnic minorities.
Of the people who texted or emailed me asking if I was alright on June 12th, 2016, many of them are SIOP members. Thanks again to my broader SIOP family and the SIOP LGBT Committee for standing strong and standing together. If you want to join our vibrant community, please reach out to Katina Sawyer (email@example.com), the outgoing LGBT committee chair or Ismael Diaz (firstname.lastname@example.org), the incoming LGBT committee chair. Here’s what Katina and Ismael and have to say to the TIP readers about the work and purpose of the LGBT Committee:
The goal of the committee is to create a supportive community of LGBT members and allies within SIOP, but also to create a broader awareness for all those interested in issues of organizational psychology, that we actively advocate for equality for LGBT individuals at work and beyond.
Katina Sawyer, outgoing Committee Chair of the LGBT Committee
The SIOP LGBT Committee has a history of doing great work. The committee has previously worked to raise society wide awareness and focus on LGBT workplace and LGBT inclusion issues. Moving forward, the committee will work to continue bridging the conversations about LGBT matters from the SIOP membership to the workplace. We also hope to continue applying the membership’s unique approaches and strengths to LGBT research and to translate that research into practice that improves the lives of LGBT people at work and beyond.
Ismael Diaz, current Committee Chair of the LGBT Committee
SIOP WIN Committee: Taking Shape and Asking Questions
Lisa S. Moore
Florida Institute of Technology
My coauthors have beautiful narratives connecting their diverse identities to their respective SIOP committees. My community, the WIN ad hoc committee, is in the planning phase: gathering ideas and developing ways for scholars, practitioners, industry partners, students, and others interested in working on ways to make sure women are better included in all work places and work spaces. I learned about the WIN by email; I proactively reached out and got involved. The narrative bridging my involvement with the WIN committee to the larger SIOP community is being written, and that is very exciting for me.
The SIOP WIN ad hoc committee started three months ago with a question. Many of you may recall from March 2017, a SIOP news story titled “Asking the Right Questions.” In this piece, Aditi Raghuram, adjunct professor at the University of Houston-Downtown College of Business asked “Hey, is there a SIOP Women’s Group?” At the time, there wasn’t, but after our organizing meeting on the Friday of SIOP 2017, there is now!
The WIN was kicked off with a warm welcome by Texas A&M professor and 2017 SIOP Fellow Mindy Bergman. Her comments emphasized the new WIN committee is open to all members female, male, cis-, transitioning/transgender, nonbinary identifying, etc.) interested in promoting the improvement of the experiences of women in I-O psychology and in the broader workplace. Looking around the room, I saw a diverse group including researchers, industry professionals, SIOP presidents, Fellows, graduate students, recent graduates, early career practitioners, educators at every level, and guests; a global mix of members ready to shape something new. Approximately 25 people attended the foundational meeting to kick start the WIN. Bergman opened the floor broadly, “So--what do we want to do?”
After a few moments of awkward silence, ideas sprang from around the room and with them opportunities for connections, information exchanges, and plans for next steps. The hour flew by fast. The members in this room were clearly passionate about workplace challenges they personally experienced, researched, or observed. One theme emerged quickly; the importance of working closely with the CEMA, LGBT committees, and others to enhance ongoing efforts for promoting diversity and inclusion in workplaces throughout the U.S. and internationally.
Follow Up Questions and Getting Involved
Walking away from the organizing meeting with a list of ideas and questions seemed appropriate: How can social media be used to inform and involve SIOP members about the WIN from all areas (public, private, academic, and practitioner) to support women in the workplace? Which issues (internal/external) must be addressed first? What is needed to recruit strong allies and champions? Where do we get started? We developed five pages of ideas and questions -- a great result! As I reviewed my notes, similar career limiting issues and barriers affect working women of various identity groups, ages, life stages, career stages, job levels, among many others. There is plenty of work to do. The committee co-chairs are thrilled by the amount of volunteer interest following the SIOP meeting. Members are invited get involved by participating in the WIN Facebook group community and attend upcoming WIN events.
WIN organizing meeting attendees shared their reactions after the meeting:
It was amazing that so many people were able to come when there were other sessions at the same time and there was very little premeeting marketing. I was impressed that people from different stages of careers were there—Fellows, presidents, grad students, new professors, established practitioners—as well as people who came expressly because they are allies and want to support WIN. It was gratifying that so many people were willing to stand up and volunteer to get WIN off the ground; gratifying, but not really surprising, because SIOP has a long and wonderful history of its members digging in and doing the work. It seemed like WIN has tapped into a long-standing need in SIOP.
WIN Co-Chair Mindy Bergman, Professor and Associate Head of Undergraduate Studies Texas A&M University
As an ally to my female colleagues, it was nice to attend the first meeting and to hear all the ideas for research, advocacy, and discussions about how to help remove barriers to women in leadership and expert roles. The WIN is in a great position to leverage the considerable experiences and expertise of the SIOP membership for the cause of gender and sex based inclusion, and I know that with the momentum of the first meeting that WIN has the potential for an exciting and productive future.
Ismael Diaz, Assistant Professor of I-O Psychology California State University San Bernardino.
The WIN meeting was amazing. It was so encouraging to see other members of SIOP, especially members with great power and connections, be enthusiastic about similar topics and ideas. Everyone in attendance was so welcoming and some really introspective and remarkable ideas were discussed. I look forward to the multiple research and SIOP conference specific ideas that were avidly brought up to the group.
Jess Sorenson, PhD Student, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, University of Guelph, Canada.
Moving Forward to 2018
As we make further progress, members may look forward to: (a) ongoing network development on the Facebook group for sharing ideas, resources, and asking questions; (b) a WIN Program at SIOP 2018; and (c) a WIN networking event at SIOP 2018. As the WIN evolves and draws on wisdom from the CEMA and LGBT committees, the goals and vision will align with the ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts of the broader community.
Questions? Please connect with: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by Facebook.
Our General Concluding Thoughts
In taking stock of SIOP’s commitment to its goal of diversity and inclusion, it is clear that the I-O community is moving down the right track. Yet, there is still much work to be done. We think that, despite the differences in scopes and timelines, more collaboration and cooperation between our committees can help each of us better achieve our shared goal of promoting diversity and inclusion in SIOP and the field of I‑O in general.
Remember, all of us are far more than one identity typed out on the conference badge we wear or the pins/flair ribbons we chose to add to it. We should acknowledge our multiple identities and embrace this intersectionality in our research2 and practice.
 I would like to thank Jason Marks (researcher at Amazon.com, Inc.) for his friendly review and comments.
2 Weaver, K., Crayne, M. P., & Jones, K. S. (2016). I-O at a crossroad: The value of an intersectional research approach. Industrial and Organizational Psychology; 9(01),