You know when you have someone that just has to say something because you are “too political” or “going to hurt your career” because you do exactly what your profession entails you to do… well, I do. Apparently, people who have never studied social work, have any knowledge what the field does, what it is involved or even care to learn about what I do have an opinion about what I should and shouldn’t be doing, all in the guise of “being concerned for me.”
Please allow me to lay down some truth for those types of people. As a member of the NASW, I follow a specific Code of Ethics and anyone who is a social worker knows that these ethics are what guide us in the field. I was recently given some “advice” second-hand through another person that I should post advocacy things on LinkedIn because professionals would be less likely to want to hire me later on. Never mind the fact that I shared an article that was already on LinkedIn and that it was nothing like anything I post on my own personal Facebook (which is completely private to the public).
So, I felt that the definition of what I do and why I do it needed to be done.
The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living (NASW, 1996.)
Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients. “Clients” is used inclusively to refer to individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice. These activities may be in the form of direct practice, community organizing, supervision, consultation administration, advocacy, social and political action, policy development and implementation, education, and research and evaluation. Social workers seek to enhance the capacity of people to address their own needs. Social workers also seek to promote the responsiveness of organizations, communities, and other social institutions to individuals’ needs and social problems (NASW, 1996).
The Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers calls upon social workers to “…facilitate informed participation by the public in shaping policies and institutions.” (NASW, 1999). Additionally, Section 6.04 (a) of the Code, states that, “social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and promote social justice” (NASW, 1999).
This is part of my job. I advocate socially and politically. It is my profession. If you don’t like that I advocate as part of my job or are some how offended, don’t become a social worker. Or better yet, let’s all make sure that people don’t have to make a career out of helping people meet their basic human needs, equality or what is guaranteed to them by our constitution regardless of age, sex, color, disability or sexual orientation. K? Thanks. End of story.
Melodi Hickey, MSW