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How to drive the field of I/O with Authenticity and Professionalism

SEBOC (Society of Evidence-Based Organizational Consulting) hosted their 3-day conference from August 10th through 12th, 2023, as a part of the Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology Awareness Month. The series covered many different topics regarding the booming field of Industrial/Organizational psychology in order to introduce I/O professionals to some new emerging topics within the field while also helping to facilitate networking and upskilling.

The conference was very beneficial to everyone in the field of I/O, particularly those who are still finding their way, or recently graduated, as many opportunities for further professional networking and skill development were discussed.

*To hear the original recording of " How to drive the field of I/O with Authenticity and Professionalism" during the SEBOC 3-Day Virtual Experience, check out Ep. 153 of the WorkCookie podcast here.

Unpacking Authenticity in the Workplace

Authenticity is a construct many are fighting to identify, define, and apply in our everyday lives as well as within our workplace. One can argue that it can be very hard to be authentic living in a world where one needs to constantly adapt to current circumstances (Vannini & Williams, 2016).

The SEBOC panel discussed that with society’s mixed messages, many feel like it is impossible to meet the expectations as individuals are often hired for their authenticity (i.e., specific way of solving problems) then later being judged or fired for the same authenticity. Some colleagues discussed their own difficult experiences within their workplace as they suffered ostracism due to factors such as the color of their skin, tone of voice, color of their hair, or lack of a specific degree, while none of those issues seemed to be a concern when they were being hired, as the recruiters already liked them for their 'authenticity'.

Many participants agreed that authenticity is still somewhat a challenge for I/O psychologists and practitioners, because sometimes we are expected to set the example of behavior for others to emulate (Harter, 2002).

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and Fostering Belonging

From that discussion emerged the highlighted topic: The Imposter Syndrome. Many of the participants mentioned that they sometimes felt like they were not up to the task due to lack of the feeling of belonging within their workplace. Sometimes it was due to the color of their skin, lack of practical experience, or mixed messages from the company and society about their authenticity for which they were first hired and then later judged for it.

Some of the experts in the field responded to that with amazing advice suggesting that neuro-ergonomics (a workplace that satisfies our professional and personal needs) as well as confidence in our expertise are two key factors for successfully overcoming the imposter syndrome (Mullangi & Jagsi, 2019).

With I/O Psychology becoming a growing field and the job market still catching up with its actual definition, there is a big responsibility on our shoulders to guide our clients in the right direction in order to create the sense of belonging and community within organizations.

The panel highlighted the importance of the “killer experience” when meeting an I/O because for our role, it seems essential to create the feeling of togetherness and community so our clients could trust us, almost like a “DJ does with the crowd”, one of the colleagues mentioned. However, it is also important to know how to approach every individual accordingly.

The Journey Forward in I/O Psychology

Finally, the importance of branding was discussed as well as an adequate education for clients about I/O and our brand so they can fully embrace the experience with an I/O psychologist/consultant.

It was a wonderful experience learning from multicultural colleagues around the world. It was very encouraging to listen to others’ perspectives on how I/O psychology could further thrive, along with the methods we can use to better facilitate these processes. However, I did find it slightly sad that so many of my accomplished colleagues, including myself, felt the Imposter Syndrome at some point in their career, due to the mixed messages of society. I would like to finish off with a little mind-provoking poem written by one of my favorite authors E. Hanson:

"Welcome to society,
We hope you enjoy your stay,
And please feel free to be yourself,
As long as it's in the right way,
Make sure you love your body,
Not too much or we'll tear you down,
We'll bully you for smiling,
And then wonder why you frown,
We'll tell you that you're worthless,
That you shouldn't make a sound,
And then cry with all the others,
As you're buried in the ground,
You can fall in love with anyone,
As long as it's who we choose,
And we'll let you have your opinions,
But please shape them to our views,
Welcome to society,
We promise that we won't deceive,
And one more rule now that you're here,
There's no way you can leave."

By: Ena Panthy

BRIDGE Builder - The Bridgify Group

*To hear the original recording of " How to drive the field of I/O with Authenticity and Professionalism" during the SEBOC 3-Day Virtual Experience, check out Ep. 153 of the WorkCookie podcast here.


Harter, S. (2002). Authenticity. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 382–394). Oxford University Press.

Vannini, P., & Williams, J. P. (2016). Authenticity in culture, self, and society. In Authenticity in culture, self, and society (pp. 17-34). Routledge.

Mullangi, S., & Jagsi, R. (2019). Imposter syndrome: treat the cause, not the symptom. Jama, 322(5), 403-404.


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