APA adopts racial equity action plan

Minneapolis — The American Psychological Association has adopted a Racial Equity Action Plan (PDF, 1.3MB) that outlines the next steps the association and psychology should take to prioritize and operationalize the commitments made in the association’s 2021 apology for its role in contributing to racism.

APA’s governing Council of Representatives received the plan Wednesday by a vote of 149-8, with 2 abstentions, at its meeting in Minneapolis, coinciding with APA 2022, the association’s annual convention.

“The Racial Equity Action Plan affords the opportunity to utilize racial equity as a critical lens to drive APA’s strategic priorities and measure the magnitude of APA’s impact,” according to the agenda item introducing the document. “This plan allows the work of racial equity to be embedded and sustained throughout all aspects of the association’s work.”

The plan is divided into five sections: Knowledge Production; Health; APA/Workforce; Training of Psychologists; and Education. Each section lays out priority actions and concludes with a summary of social impact and innovation.

Among the actions the plan recommends:

  • Ensure equitable representation of scholars of color in scientific and scholarly leadership positions including, but not limited to, peer review panels and editorial boards.
  • Redesign traditional methodologies used to conduct, review, communicate, disseminate and report psychological research to ensure equity, diversity and inclusion, including expanding ways that the psychology community documents scientific, scholarly and social impact.
  • Disseminate and promote the use of race-conscious, trauma-informed mental health information with community stakeholders including, but not limited to, frontline workers, grassroots community organizations and advocates.
  • Promote education and training to improve literacy, knowledge and awareness of systemic racism among health care professionals, as well as their responsiveness to structural racism.
  • Improve the psychology workforce talent pool by advocating for inclusive recruitment, hiring, pay equity and promotion practices that attract, retain and advance racially and ethnically diverse people.
  • Implement efforts that mitigate barriers to the entry and completion of graduate training programs; improve psychology graduate education and training to include diverse, non-Western cultural perspectives; and enhance the visibility of psychologists of diverse backgrounds.
  • Encourage and endorse the teaching of the history of racism in the U.S. to prepare all preschool to higher education students to think critically about identity, community and civics.

The plan was created after consulting a broad cross-section of experts and advocates, with multiple opportunities for input from association members and leaders. These opportunities included surveys, working groups, listening sessions and town hall meetings. The plan follows APA’s issuance of a formal apology in October 2021 for the association’s role and that of psychology in contributing to systemic racism.

The association has already begun laying the foundation needed to implement the actions in the Racial Equity Action Plan, said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr. “A newly created Leadership Development Institute and Racial Equity Fund are examples of vehicles that can help move this work forward,” Evans said.

The Leadership Development Institute (LDI) was developed as a science-based, central hub for all APA leadership development, training and mentoring programs, including APA’s flagship leadership programs—the Leadership Program for Women in Psychology and the Minority Fellowship Program. “While the LDI was developed to advance leadership in the field of psychology broadly, it also provides an extraordinary opportunity for APA to accelerate its racial equity work through the cultivation of leaders who can advance the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion within the field of psychology and the broader society,” Evans added.

The Racial Equity Fund will be seeded by a $1.1 million grant from APA, which will support research and other work related to the priorities and principles articulated in the plan. “The Racial Equity Fund will help advance racial equity from multiple perspectives, including supporting scholars of color in psychology and funding the science that will be needed to implement actions aimed at addressing systemic racism,” Evans said.

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