The number of scientists with ethnic minority backgrounds doesn’t currently reflect the number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds employed in the types of settings I/O psychologists work in, or the general population.

This discrepancy must be modified to ensure equality in the workplace, as well as pave the way to a more inclusive, multi-cultural environment where race is no longer considered an issue. And who better to do that than a fully representative I/O psychology work force? I/O Psychologists study social justice, equality and prejudice very thoroughly during their studies, and use the related skills they learn during their careers to everyone’s benefit.

Social justice in the workplace has been studied thoroughly by academics from a range of fields, and applies particularly to I/O psychology as an integral part of their work.

The connection between fair or unfair treatment and performance, commitment and satisfaction at work has been studied thoroughly – some have looked at the effects of social justice, while others emphasize how justice-related judgements occur. This study directly affects the work of I/O psychologists, and, in turn, how organizations are structured and organized. When best practices are based on the latest research in social justice, it creates a more effective organization.

In the Journal of Applied Psychology, Andrew Morris looked at the evaluation of leaders - a topic that is becoming more important for I/O psychologists. Morris suggests that the racial composition of a leader’s group affects how the leader’s effectiveness is judged (I/O At Work, 2015). And with the lack of equality in management positions, could this be affecting the US’s entire workforce to the negative?

Sendhil Mullainathan recently wrote a piece in the New York Times about racial discrimination. He points to arguments postulating that African-Americans may earn less income on average in comparison to whites due to problems with schooling in the neighborhoods where they were raised, not due to race.

Mullainathan also claims that many racial judgements are unconscious. For example, he points to a study examining race and employment in 2009. Actual people were sent to apply for low-wage jobs. They had identical resumes and were provided with the same interview training. The African-American applicants with no criminal record were offered positions at a similar rate as white applicants that had a criminal history. Mullainathan puts this down to unconscious bias – a controversial topic.

PHD Degree Admission: I/O Industrial & Organizational Psychology

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IOTech4D is a research group that might also interest you. This lab is housed with Department of Psychology at North Carolina State University. Check out their website for more information.


There are many opportunities for psychologists to work with humanitarian organizations like NGOs, such as Doctors Without Borders, but working directly with organizations as an I/O specialist is more tricky. The best way to find opportunities is to select some of your favorite humanitarian organizations, and offer them your time, skills and talents. This can be done either locally or internationally.

If you´re planning to apply to do a PhD in I/O Psychology, working with a humanitarian organization during the process might be fulfilling for you. What´s fulfilling for us? Working with people like you. If there is any way we can help you with your personal statement of purpose, please let us know. 


The GTF made a concerted effort to raise awareness about the application of organizational psychology to poverty reduction and decent work. It was featured in symposia at multiple international conferences organized by various groups, including the European Association for Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP), the International Association for Applied Psychology (IAAP), the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology (SIOP), the Psychological Association of the Philippines, the New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS), and the Australian Psychological Society (APS).

The GTF and the discipline were also featured in the prominent organizational psychology textbook by Frank Landy and Jeffrey Conte (2010) and a Global Special Issue on Psychology and Poverty Reduction, coordinated by Stuart Carr, out of Massey University in New Zealand.

The first courses prominently featuring humanitarian work psychology were held at Massey University in New Zealand, the University of Bologna in Italy, the University of Barcelona in Spain, and Elon University in the United States.

The GTF began interfacing with policymaking bodies by making a formal statement at the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in 2010.

Information about the latest progress that has been made can be found on GOHWP´s blog.