MLK Day invites a wave of well-meaning social
media posts about fighting the good fight, the arc of justice,
having a dream… For social workers, all of those are meant to be an
everyday part of the role. That's spelled out in a big, detailed,
crucial section of the
NASW Code of Ethics. It's chock full of shoulds-not
"if possible" or "should try to"-but a stand-alone should.
Eg, "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 to develop fully." That's
good and clear. MLK Day seems like a good time ask ourselves if
we're living up to that call. Here's the section in full:
6. Social Workers' Ethical Responsibilities to the
6.01 Social Welfare
Social workers should promote the general welfare of society, from
local to global levels, and the development of people, their
communities, and their environments. Social workers should advocate
for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human
needs and should promote social, economic, political, and cultural
values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of
6.02 Public Participation
Social workers should facilitate informed participation by the
public in shaping social policies and institutions.
6.03 Public Emergencies
Social workers should provide appropriate professional services in
public emergencies to the greatest extent possible.
6.04 Social and Political Action
(a) 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 to develop fully. Social workers
should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice
and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to
improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and
promote social justice.
(b) Social workers should act to expand choice and opportunity
for all people, with special regard for vulnerable, disadvantaged,
oppressed, and exploited people and groups.
(c) Social workers should promote conditions that encourage
respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States
and globally. Social workers should promote policies and practices
that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of
cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and
institutions that demonstrate cultural competence, and promote
policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social
justice for all people.
(d) Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate
domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any
person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national
origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or
expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion,
immigration status, or mental or physical ability.
Will this be on the test? Yes. The exam most likely and the test
that is every day life for sure. Good luck! And thanks for all you