From the president and the chief executive

Katherine Carpenter and Sarb Bajwa write.

Dear Members,
It is a pleasure to write to you at the beginning of a new year. One which, we hope, will be filled with new energy. With the continued challenges of Covid-19, the last 12 months have been, without a doubt, turbulent ones for us all as they have been for the BPS. For all of us, this has meant adjusting to new ways of working, managing increased workloads, and coping with some of the unanticipated, as well as anticipated, attendant anxieties thrown up by the pandemic. 

Navigating the contours of this new, and rapidly changing, landscape has undoubtedly been challenging, but it has also provided us with the opportunity here at the Society to be active in our reflection. We believe such a large organisation as ours, which strives to protect and promote the interests of members representing so many different domains of Psychology, needs to stand united in the face of the multiple global challenges of our era. Above all, these difficult times have reminded us of the importance of placing listening and sharing at the heart of everything we do.  

2021 saw the development of a new interim strategy that sought to positively articulate our many commonalities and shared raison d’être. As a professional body and a learned Society, we remain committed to advancing evidence-based Psychology to make a profound and lasting impact for all our members and for society at large. In several new ways, however, we have also broadened our intentions; or at least found ways to articulate our goals more inclusively, precisely, and purposefully.  

Most importantly, we now, for the first time, explicitly recognise the centrality of our members as the beating heart of the Society. We know from our member research that we are a broad church, from a wide range of professional and personal backgrounds, facing disparate challenges, working at different stages of our individual and collective journeys. This rainbow spectrum of experiences and knowledge bases is, we believe, our strength and should be celebrated. Accordingly, our new strategy centralises our commitment to inclusivity: acknowledging, reflecting and championing our differences.

Our strategy also reflects the necessity for collective working. Indeed, the impact we achieved together – bridging disciplines – at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, powerfully demonstrated the important role Psychology as a unified discipline can play in shaping attitudes and responses. Many of you participated in our work undertaken by Korn Ferry and we heard your concerns around an ‘us’ and ‘them’ dynamic between different areas of our collective. We also heard the calls you made for us to lead in encouraging intra- and inter-disciplinary integration. At the Senate meeting in November 2021, we tackled these concerns ‘head on’ and confirmed our united mission to work together as one meta discipline. 

To be clear, this does not mean we will champion a ‘one-size fits all’ approach. We do not want to stifle the amazing productivity and inspiration achieved within disciplines and domains of practice. But we do nevertheless want to acknowledge that, in certain situations, standing together we can be stronger and have greater impact. We have listened to you our members and are committed to building a culture of togetherness.

These are ambitious goals, and we recognise that any new strategic commitment presents new challenges. Progressive and purposeful change is rarely plain sailing. The changes we have outlined will mean new ways of working, and new lessons to be learned. For them to work we will need to be open, flexible, and reflective to meet these challenges. We can commit from the outset, however, always to do our best to communicate openly and transparently, and to be the sharer of good news and bad. This will take courage, but we both believe that by pledging our full accountability to our members we can only strengthen the trust between us.                        

This is our commitment – please join us!

- Katherine Carpenter, President, the British Psychological Society

- Sarb Bajwa, Chief Executive

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