This year, the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology (SIOP) annual conference’s theme was “Better Together” — and the event embodied that theme on several levels. First and foremost, it was great to be back at an in-person conference again. Secondly, the conference itself oozed inclusivity, from the accommodations made for attendees to the program contents.
I’ve been attending SIOP conferences for 30 years. During that time, I’ve witnessed the industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology community’s expansion as our research and practice have had a growing impact on the organizations we serve and the people they employ. This year also reminded me of my own personal and professional growth because I received a fellowship award for my contributions to the field.
Past SIOP president and personal friend Fred Oswald summed up the zeitgeist of this year’s conference well:
“This year’s SIOP shows greater practitioner-academic partnerships in the space of AI, machine learning and various forms of talent management,” he says. “With these partnerships, I-O becomes a superpower when working with others in this space because of our expertise in psychological measurement, personnel selection and the organizational culture and context in which talent management systems must operate to be effective.”
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the 2022 SIOP conference.
Tech companies are among the biggest employers of I-O psychologists. Major players like Amazon, Meta, Google, Uber, Dell, Coinbase and Splunk rely on the insights and expertise provided by our community to support better employment practices.
Many of these tech companies set workforce trends, suggesting that more organizations will add roles for I-O psychologists to their businesses. And now that I-O psychology has officially been recognized as a STEM discipline by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, interest in our field — especially from tech companies — will only grow.
The conference’s “Better Together” theme emphasizes the need to drive greater diversity internally within SIOP and within the organizations where I-O psychologists work.
The field of I-O psychology in the U.S. has been fighting hiring bias since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We’re pioneers in this area and we’re continuing to do great work here, starting with the emphasis on diversity we are cultivating within SIOP. The proof is in our latest census:
In the 40 years since it was founded, SIOP’s membership has grown from 2,000 members in 1982 to 9,100 in 2022. The group’s composition was overwhelmingly male at SIOP’s inception but is now more evenly distributed at 55% women and 45% men. And in 1982, only 3% of SIOP members came from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Now, 25% of members specify a race or ethnicity other than white.
As an organization, SIOP has developed programs for promoting greater diversity, equity and inclusion. These initiatives include mentoring programs to help women and ethnic minorities in the field overcome barriers to success, anti-racism grants, a project for addressing underrepresentation in funded I-O psychology doctoral programs and a comprehensive resource center.
These ideas are critical for growing employer and client programs as well as furthering much-needed research initiatives. And our members are taking a page from SIOP’s playbook and bringing our knowledge and vision to programs that promote diversity, equity and inclusion at the organizations we work in.
One of the most important takeaways from this year’s conference is the importance of our role in mitigating the risk related to bias in the organizations we work with. Some notable sessions from the conference in this area included:
Voices of the (In)Visible: Incorporating Disability Identity in Employee Selection
What’s Really Working? Sharing Lessons Learned From Organizations’ DEI Efforts
Beyond SCOTUS’ Bostock Decision: What’s Next for LGBTQ+ Protections in the Workplace?
By capturing and sharing these important ideas, I-O psychologists are committed to making work a better place for everyone.
Using AI in hiring requires caution, but I-O psychologists aren’t afraid of it — we just want to do it right.
As I-O psychologists, we’re aware of the benefits of using AI and other high-tech tools in workplace processes. But we’re acutely aware of the risks, too.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice both recently released technical assistance documents regarding potential disability discrimination when using AI tools to make hiring decisions.
I-O psychologists are advancing the ethical use of AI, including machine learning, natural language processing and predictive analytics, to support better, less biased hiring decisions. In fact, Fred Oswald is the only I-O who was asked to serve on the National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee (NAIAC), a groundbreaking multi-disciplinary effort.
Launched in April 2022, this committee brings the best of science and I-O psychology practice to bear to inform the nation on using AI in inclusive, fair, effective and legal ways, Oswald says. His presence on the committee signals the high esteem in which the U.S. government holds I-O psychology. It is fantastic that I-O has a seat at the table allowing us to lend our perspective and expertise to a difficult, but critical, conversation that remains extremely fluid.
Some of the SIOP sessions discussing the ethical use of AI included:
New Developments in Structured Interviews: From AI to Technical Interviews
Ethical Perceptions of AI in Hiring and Organizational Trust
Who and What Is Behind the Curtain?: AI and Accountability in Hiring and Selection
To learn about each session mentioned here and above, including presenters and organizational affiliation, check out the complete 2022 SIOP annual conference presentation database.
As we continue moving forward in our I-O psychology studies and practices, we’re committed to staying “better together.”