Handbook for Increasing Ethnic Minority Participation in State Psychological Associations and APA Divisions
Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Effective strategies for recruiting and involving psychologists of color in the affairs of state psychological associations (SPA) and divisions of APA, should be a part of each organization's goals and objectives. But, we recognize that the identification of the specific activities to accomplish this goal is probably best left to the leadership of each SPA and APA division.
The purpose of this Handbook is to encourage the creativity and goodwill that must accompany any effort to increase ethnic minority representation and participation. The following points are made as a prelude to further action and reflection by all APA affiliated groups. It is beyond the ambition or initiative of the authors to suggest that these recommendations are the only ways to achieve increased representation and participation of the psychologist of color in SPA's and division's affairs. SPAs and Divisions are encouraged to find the solution that fits their needs and resources.
Three types of action proposals are used in organizing this brochure:
First, ethnic minority membership should be identified;
Secondly communications mechanisms should be established; and
Thirdly the organizational structure of SPAs and APA divisions may need to be amended in order to facilitate the participation and representation of the psychologists of color.
The objective here is for each SPA and APA division to identify existing as well as potential members of color; i.e., those who are already members and those who are not, but may be encouraged to join through outreach efforts. In either case, both may contribute to SPA or APA division activities.
There are several methods for identifying ethnic minority psychologists presently in the organization. At the national level, APA's Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs maintains a database of ethnic minority professionals in psychology. A search of this database can identify those psychologists of color who are members in various APA divisions and reside in various States. Although not all psychologists of color have chosen to identify themselves in this manner, many (approximately 2,800) have.
Divisions and SPAs might consider including questions on their membership applications or renewal forms that request the applicant?s self-identified racial/cultural status. Also, for those SPAs and APA divisions that publish a newsletter, it might be useful to write an article about the organization's ethnic minority recruitment efforts and encourage established members to participate.
The collection of data on ethnic minority membership requires repeated, consistent efforts in order to establish sincere commitment. Moreover, once the data are collected, it may be used to develop resources such as a directory of multicultural experts and/or ethnic minority community public policy advocates.
The well-informed APA consumer asks "What does this division/SPA do for me, and my concerns?" If the answer is "a lot," an outreach effort focused on ethnic minority members may start with the same strategy used to identify present members, namely a search of the OEMA database. An invitation to join may go to any or all individuals listed in a certain geographical area and/or in a certain major speciality area. Another strategy would use the existing division membership in active recruitment of ethnic minority colleagues. A personal letter or face-to-face contact are powerful techniques for encouraging interest. The identification of current ethnic minority membership may help in these contacts. Naturally, the entire recruitment effort is influenced by a SPA?s and division?s actions and policies.
Every SPA and APA division have ethnic minority constituents. These are professionals on which to call and seek advise related not only to the recruitment of ethnic minority members, but also related to professional, scholarly, and organization issues that are at the heart of the activities of SPAs and APA divisions. The activities of the SPA and divisions should reflect a willingness to have people of color participate in all the aspects of the organization.
Newsletter and Journal
For those SPAs and APA Divisions with a regularly published newsletter, there exists a variety of potential avenues for regular communication with ethnic minority psychologists. For example, a regular column or article can be devoted to addressing ethnic minority issues and concerns. Also, the newsletter can be used to report on the activities and events that focus on ethnic minority issues and encourage ethnic minority members to seek active involvement in SPA/division affairs. Involvement of ethnic minority graduate students and young professionals in the editing of SPA and division newsletters is a way of creating roles for ethnic minority members that strengthen their early careers, while enhancing the diversity of issues addressed in the SPA or APA division newsletter.
Similarly, ethnic minority participation can positively contribute to the editorial and ethnic minority communication processes of those journals affiliated with APA divisions. A 1998 report of the APA Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) on ?Ethnic Minority Participation in the APA Editorial Pipeline? includes the following recommendations:
Develop editorial mentoring opportunities for ethnic minority graduate students in psychology. Editors and their editorial boards should engage in targeted and aggressive outreach to ethnic minority psychologists to serve as reviewers. Consideration should be given to the establishment of ?editorial internships? for early career ethnic minority psychologists.
Annual Convention Meetings
Another method of communicating with ethnic minority members is through use of convention time for meetings, social gatherings, symposia and guest speakers. The national APA, regional, and state psychological association conventions could have time set aside by the program committee for meetings and forums to discuss issues relevant to people of color. Social gathering time also could be allocated to allow for informal networking among persons with ethnic minority interests. This may take the form of brown bag lunches, conversation hours, or social hours. Presentations or symposia on ethnic minority topics or by ethnic minority psychologists might be specifically encouraged in the Convention?s ?Call for Papers?. A guest speaker on ethnic minority issues can highlight the organization's interest in the subject. Some regional conventions give student awards for research presentations. This might be extended to an ethnic minority student paper award. Some SPA's and divisions reduce convention fees for psychologists of color to encourageparticipation. The rationale is that once these psychologists attend a meeting, and find common issues and recognition of their issues and concerns, they are more likely to return and become participants in the organization.
On an informal basis, the promotion of a mentorship network can help introduce and bring ethnic minority members through the ranks of the SPA or APA division. The existing networks within SPAs and divisions are powerful. The intricacies of the organizational structure, with its variety of personalities, often are difficult to readily comprehend. The help and encouragement of established members within a SPA or Division can facilitate the professional development of an individual ethnic minority member. Existing leadership can foster ethnic minority participation in a most powerful way through their personal participation in mentoring.
In a more formal manner, divisions and SPAs provide something similar to mentorships. There are leadership workshops that are provided for promising new members. The inclusion of people of color in such workshops is a highly visible way of demonstrating willingness to help diversify the membership and the leadership. These workshops help in directing professional growth: The eventual anticipated outcome is a well-trained cadre of members who are groomed to take on leadership roles. These roles include organization activities such as elected office, committee membership, task force membership or caucus work.
Each organization has its own set of governance or working groups. These groups are called sections, committees, task forces, caucuses or special interest groups. Within these existing bodies, appointment of ethnic minority members would be a highly visible gesture toward increasing ethnic minority participation in the work of the SPA or APA division, while ensuring minority representation throughout the functional system.
A second option for involving people of color in SPA or divisional matters would be the creation of an ethnic minority committee, task force or caucus. The creation of such a group may start with the appointment/recruitment of a chair, co-chairs or a full committee from the existing SPA or division membership. Also, a newsletter article or call for committee members can help identify potential members. The committee may take as an agenda, issues related to ethnic minority identification, recruitment and communication tasks, or the committee appointments described earlier. Besides these objectives, the committee may be asked to comment on the effects of organizational actions on people and communities of color. In addition, a member of the committee could be one of several rotating representatives to attend the Board of Directors or Executive Committee meetings. This liaison role is critical to both the visibility of the committee of ethnic minority affairs as well as professional development of the individual member(s). It serves to build leadership within the committee, and within the organization at large. An additional liaison role for a committee member would be attending, when permitted, the nominations' committee, the program committee, or other SPA or division governance group meeting.
Ethnic minority committees, task forces and caucuses should be encouraged to maintain minutes of all meetings. These will formalize and validate the importance of each meeting. Minutes also will allow absent members to stay informed and involved. This historical record will serve as a guideline for the annual committee report to the membership. The specific titles or tasks of these groups may depend upon the SPA or division.
The creation of interest groups or caucuses may be more of a spontaneous nature. They may be facilitated and encouraged by budgetary support, liaisons and requests for periodic reports. The creation of committees and task forces follow more formal lines. Consequently, operating funds should be provided whenever possible. For example, a separate mailing to the membership requires budgetary support. These funds need to be allocated for committee or taskforce use.
The final, most visible and formal presence of ethnic minority constituents would be by election to the SPA or division executive committee or board of directors, or APA Council of Representatives (CR). The composition of the executive committee/board of directors varies little. There are usually the president, secretary, treasurer and members at large. In addition, certain committee chairs may be included. The number of CR representatives can change based on apportionment ballots, but there is always at least one. Election to any of these may be a way for ethnic minority members to contribute to SPA or division affairs. But, first they must be nominated. The nomination process varies according to the SPA?s or division?s bylaws. Candidate selection is by the election's committee, by nomination ballot and committee, or by executive committee with comment by the membership at an annual business meeting. Ethnic minority presence on the election committee may heighten sensitivity to the need for ethnic minorities on the ballot. Some SPAs and divisions make provisions in their bylaws for the inclusion or addition of candidates beyond those proposed by the nomination ballot. There have been some attempts at fielding an entire ethnic minority slate. This is a powerful but potentially controversial option, yet given sufficient preparation such moves may not be perceived as counterproductive by the membership. Greater visibility of ethnic minority members in the division or SPA governance structure may give them the exposure needed for nomination without these exceptional measures.
Of course, actions and reactions are reciprocal in nature. The election of people of color to the division and state positions, if a desirable goal, requires commitment by state and divisional leadership to work in a variety of ways to facilitate the process. The recruitment of ethnic minority members starts with identification of potential minority membership candidates. Once a working group has been identified, the development of mentoring and communication networks is a powerful follow-up. Finally, the inclusion of ethnic minorities in their own task forces and committees as well as the other tasks forces and committees of the SPA or division helps to establish and institutionalize the presence of ethnic minorities in the structure of the organization. Any of these activities will effect some minor change. Any change will bring about wider changes in the organizational system. The goals of better accessing resources of the APA membership and benefiting from the diversity of that membership are realizable. It is left to the specific state associations and divisions to realize those goals by concrete, proactive measures.
The Council of National Psychological Associations for the Advancement of Ethnic Minority Issues (CNPAAEMI)
APA Division Services
Phone: (202) 336-6013
American Psychological Association Graduate Students/ Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs
Phone: (202) 336-6014
Resources by The APA Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology (CEMRRAT)
Directory of Experts in Multicultural Psychology, 1998
Directory of Ethnic Minority Professionals in Psychology, 2000