The world we live in is diverse. This rich diversity is what allows us to thrive in abundance and become more successful. It is as true in nature as it is in human civilization, diversity increases sustainability. For a society to truly thrive its members need to respect, and acknowledge, diversity for the important contributions that such difference brings to the community.
The Importance of Inclusion
Inclusion is essential in improving the lives of others. Social workers understand that for all people in a group, community, or society to have an equal chance to thrive, then the same access to resources must apply to everyone. All members must be offered an equal playing field. All members must have equal representation in every level of societal organization, so that all members within a society experience social inclusion and have the necessary resources to thrive and prosper.
Social work promotes society’s well-being and advancement through engaging clients in self-empowerment and assisting the communities in which they live. Social workers work with people from various backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religious beliefs, and personal preferences.
Relationship Building in Social Work
A social worker must develop an appreciation of diversity and acknowledge difference through communication practices and relationship building by respectfully listening to the concerns, needs, and perspectives of the people they serve. Relationship building is vital to social work and increasing an individual, group, or community’s chances for successful outcomes. Being mindful of difference — and how these differences bring about unique experiences that impact and influence outcomes for diverse populations — will ensure the social worker understands that the client is the best person to define their individual situation.
Through remaining transparent about a willingness to learn from their cultural perspective, social workers can openly communicate their understanding of how difference has shaped the lives and experiences of their clients. This better demonstrates a desire in the social worker to learn from the client’s personal perspective so that the social worker can help them find the best resources for the desired outcomes.
Inclusion is currently being brought to the forefront of society in areas of education, entertainment, and business. Companies are just now beginning to acknowledge a lack of leadership and representation in the populations that they employ and market to. Research over the last 15 years has been compiled by independent companies and multinational corporations to figure out what needs to be addressed to “meet the needs of a diverse company base” (Jain-Link, Kennedy, & Bourgeois, 2020). Listening to women of color among other groups who have historically faced great obstacles to advance in their careers and take their place in leadership has recently become a standard of practice.
The Evolving Marketplace
The recent interest in companies to replace the centuries old “traditional white male standards” is motivated by the need to survive and thrive in a marketplace that is forever evolving and expanding in a world that is shrinking into becoming more comparative to the likes of a small global community (Jain-Link, Kennedy, & Bourgeois, 2020). This is creating a need for companies to reevaluate their policies and provide women and men of color, and other underrepresented groups, access to leadership and positions of power (Jain-Link, Kennedy, & Bourgeois, 2020).
EverFi, an organization that partners with educational institutions to provide educational courses and “critical learning platforms” to public schools and universities has included “Equity” in addition to “Diversity” and “Inclusion” for 2021 trends in its platforms (Bridges, 2021). The intersectionality of identity is beginning to show as an important component within the educational standard to address unconscious bias in the workforce related to gender identity, race, ethnicity, and other cultural aspects (Bridges, 2021). The importance of the advancement of Equity is being recognized by companies that want to modernize standards of practice to remain viable and successful in the marketplace. Social work values and the importance of diversity are becoming more recognizable as central influences within all organizational domains in society.
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By: Shannon Wilkinson, EKU social work student
Bridges, Jess. (2021). Diversity, equity, and inclusion trends for 2021. EverFi. https://everfi.com/blog/workplace-training/5-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-trends/
Jain-Link, P., Kennedy, J., & Bourgeois, T. (2020). Five strategies for creating an inclusive workplace. Harvard Business Review. https://www.google.com/amp/s/hbr.org/amp/2020/01/5-strategies-for-creating-an-inclusive-workplace