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The Importance of Punctuation and HWP

Little things make a lot of difference.  You probably expect that a posting with a title related to punctuation will pontificate on the problem of the Oxford/serial comma, the absence of which recently decided a case with relevance to work psychology (//  And yet, that’s not what this posting is about, nor is it about any of the fascinating (for some of us, okay?) punctuation-related facts described in Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves (yes, the title there also plays with the Oxford comma, so I suppose that’s double misdirection).


Instead, it’s about a dash.


I had an interesting email exchange with former GOHWP Board member Ishbel McWha-Hermann after the recent SIOP conference, in which she mentioned that one of the conversations the Board used to have was about H-WP vs. HW-P.


The astute reader will have already noticed that there is no punctuation in GOHWP’s name, nor is there any in HWP as it’s generally abbreviated.  The distinction, however, is an interesting one, and points out two perspectives from which people can approach HWP.  As Carr, De Guzman, Eltyeb, Furnham, MacLachlan, Marai, and McAuliffe put it in their 2012 chapter, “Humanitarian work psychology incorporates both the application of industrial and organizational psychology to humanitarian issues, and more broadly the development of a psychology that promotes humanitarian work” (p. 4).


But do we all think of it from both perspectives simultaneously, and if not, what does the placement of that dash tell each of us about how we view the field?


Parsing “HW” from “P” reflects the study of the psychology of humanitarian work.  A lot of the work of groups like SIOP’s UN team, the Project GLOW initiative, and Project FAIR (look for more on this in upcoming blogs!) falls into this category.  Indeed, in looking at the focus of GOHWP as an organization, this has been what we tend to emphasize.  In our Twitter feed, this is largely the kind of work we post about, and the kinds of initiatives we follow.  There is a ton (or, I suppose, a tonne) of important work to be done in this domain, particularly as it relates to supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  That, in a nutshell, is HW-P.  The psychology of humanitarian work.


H-WP slices things differently, putting work psychology into the service of various humanitarian topics and organizations.  This is where things like corporate social responsibility and prosocial I-O tend to fall.  A job analysis of volunteers at a soup kitchen, or developing a job skills training program for refugees, would be examples of H-WP.  One of my favorite sessions from SIOP 2017 involved a panel talking about doing prosocial I-O, working with various non-profits, religious organizations, and so forth to improve their functioning.


Before I had the distinction put to me in fundamental punctuation terms, I’ll admit that it’s something I’d struggled with.  It seemed – well, seems – to me that HWP can and should do both things, and that’s what the Carr et al. (2012) definition would suggest.  We should be studying humanitarian work, so we can support that sector of the global organizational community, but we should also be taking the skills we develop through our education, training, and work experience to improve all kinds of organizations that contribute to the greater good.


HWP, to me, is all about making the world a better place.  Wherever you place that dash, you’re trying to achieve the same goal:  Help people.  Offer our knowledge and skills (ah, heck – and our abilities, to finish the trifecta!) to improve work and thereby make people’s lives better.


So next time you think about HWP (and I hope you think about it often!), ask yourself:  Where do I put the dash?




Carr, S.C., De Guzman, J.M., Eltyeb, S.M., Furnham, A., MacLachlan, M., Marai, L., & McAuliffe, E. (2012). An introduction to humanitarian work psychology.  In S.C. Carr, M. MachLachlan, & A. Furnham (eds.), Humanitarian Work Psychology (pp. 3-33). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Truss, L. (2006). Eats, shoots and leaves: The zero tolerance approach to punctuation.  New York, NY: Avery.

Senior Manager, Human Rights Foundation for the Global Compact – New York, NY

Posting Title: Senior Manager, Human Rights

Department/Office: Foundation for the Global Compact

Duty Station: New York, NY


The Foundation for the Global Compact is looking for a highly motivated professional with concrete experience working in the area of business and human rights to serve the Foundation and support the United Nations (UN) Global Compact. As the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, the UN Global Compact is mobilizing the business community to commit to and implement the Global Compact’s 10 Principles, which are derived from universal declarations and conventions, and to take action in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Senior Manager, Human Rights, reporting to the Chief of Programmes, will manage the Global Compact’s human rights portfolio, including development and management of programmatic opportunities for Global Compact participants in the area of human rights and support for and engagement with Global Compact Local Networks. S/he will provide business and human rights knowledge to Global Compact projects and initiatives, including expertise on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

This is an exceptional opportunity for a business and human rights professional to contribute to the growth and impact of the Global Compact’s human rights work.


  • Provide expertise on business and human rights. This may include briefings, analysis and input to flagship projects, including Action Platforms.
  • Support the development and implementation of the Global Compact’s human rights and labour strategy at the global level with emphasis on Global Compact Principles 1 to 6, including workplan and budget development.
  • Engage with businesses, governments, civil society, Local Networks and the UN system to promote the Global Compact’s human rights and labour Principles and support the implementation and uptake of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights with a view to ensure coherence on business and human rights at the global and local level.
  • Manage the Human Rights and Labour Working Group (HRLWG) and its activities.
  • Manage the day to day engagement with key UN agencies and partners focused on human rights including OHCHR and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
  • Support Global Compact Local Network efforts to advance human rights at the country-level, including by developing tailored resources and materials.
  • Oversee all human rights related tools, resources, activities and grants, including the Business and Human Rights E-Learning Tool and Human Rights and Business Dilemmas Forum.
  • Lead the organization of human rights focused sessions at flagship GC events, including content development, speaker outreach and logistical arrangements.
  • Manage the Global Compact’s contribution to and participation at the Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights including preparation of session proposals, organization of sessions and communications and outreach to Global Compact participants.
  • Represent the UN Global Compact on webinars and at external meetings and events as requested.


  • Communication : Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; listens to others, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; asks questions to clarify, and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; tailors language, tone, style and format to match audience; and demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed.
  • Teamwork : Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals; solicits input by genuinely valuing others’ ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position; and shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings.
  • Planning & Organizing : Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary; and uses time efficiently.
  • Commitment to Continuous Learning: Keeps abreast of new developments in own occupation/profession; actively seeks to develop oneself professionally and personally; contributes to the learning of colleagues and subordinates; shows willingness to learn from others; and seeks feedback to learn and improve.


  • Bachelor’s degree required, Masters or equivalent degree strongly preferred
  • Minimum of five (5) years of relevant experience
  • Experience and expertise in the field of business and human rights
  • Experience in project management
  • Experience in stakeholder engagement and management, including with business, the United Nations, civil society
  • Understanding and experience of corporate sustainability and the role corporates must play in delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations


  • Please send your e-mail submision with the subject heading “Senior Manager Human Rights” and include the follwing materials:
  • Cover Letter
  • Resume/CV
  • One-page response to one of the following prompts:
  • What is the unique value proposition of the UN Global Compact relative to other players in the business and human rights landscape?
  • How does business respect and support for human rights contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals?

Given the anticipated volume of submissions, only highly qualified candidates will be contacted.

Job Type: Full-time

Required education:

  • Bachelor’s

Required experience:

  • relevant: 5 years