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By Evan Sinar
This past week in San Diego, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) held its annual conference. As the largest yearly gathering for the field of I/O psychology, more than 4000 individuals were on hand this year for the three-day event. The conference draws an extensive international audience, and includes attendees ranging from current psychology and business school graduate students, to their professors, to practitioners within major corporations engaged in a range of HR responsibilities, to consulting professionals providing Talent Management products and solutions.
The conference continues to be an extremely valuable source of broad, evidence-based, thought leadership about pressing Talent Management issues. Year-over-year trends in the presentations delivered at the conference are also a useful lead indicator of which topics are growing in importance for organizations managing their evolving workforces. The conference has also become increasingly practical in its focus, particularly in its investigations of leading-edge approaches and technologies. In many cases, SIOP is the only reliable source for deep and data-driven insights about the value produced by – and unrecognized risks of – these new methods. These factors have contributed to enhanced interest in the conference from Talent Management professionals.
A key 2012 conference theme was managing diversity through the elimination of discrimination - in one of the best-attended sessions of the conference, Jacqueline Berrien, the Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), emphasized the shared goals – and common challenges - of the EEOC and I/O Psychology. Ms. Berrien reiterated the EEOC’s overriding mission of definitively ending, not just reducing, discrimination in the workplace. I/O Psychologists conducting research into equitable employment practices play a critical role in this mission, as do Talent Management professionals deploying these tools with the right foundation, for the right purpose, and with sufficient implementation rigor. Ms. Berrien urged a renewed dialogue and strengthened partnership between her organization and the I/O Psychology discipline, around the mutual interests of developing, implementing, and advocating the use of assessment practices that balance fairness and predictive effectiveness. While she recognized universal use of such practice as “unfinished business,” she expressed sincere optimism in the continued EEOC-I/O partnership to progress toward this goal.