Social work values and ethics to embody in your career
When you become a social worker, you commit to helping people with their wellbeing, safety and basic needs, particularly those who are vulnerable, oppressed or living in poverty. Throughout your career, you will have developed a set of core social work values and ethical principles related to your profession, and will use them to inform and guide your practice.
The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) Code of Ethics outlines the social work values that are central to the field to be:
- Respect for human rights and dignity
- A commitment to promoting social justice
- Professional integrity
They also outline ethical principles related to these core values, that social workers can use to guide their careers. Within this blog, we look closely at the key social work values and ethical principles, and outline ways to embody them as you make decisions and deal with any ethical issues that occur.
Core social work values
Respect for human rights and dignity
This is a value particularly important for social workers who, on a daily basis, have to make decisions related to the future needs of those that they work with. In these moments, social workers are to:
- Uphold and promote human dignity and wellbeing
- Respect the right to self-determination
- Promote the right to participation
- Work holistically
- Identify and develop strengths
Within your work, it’s important to understand and recognise that every person is different, with a diverse range of circumstances, needs and issues, so that your decisions and actions are always informed by all those parts. Considering the abilities and strengths of each person, group or community you work with is crucial too, ensuring that people are empowered to reach their desired outcomes.
As such, social work should also be collaborative. In your practice, you support people so that they can make decisions for themselves. Respecting this independence preserves their dignity and helps them move forward in life and achieve their goals. Through showing people that their opinions matter and giving them the space to make choices for themselves, this will help them to put those skills to use and become more self-sufficient over time.
The values of a social worker also include social justice, which should always be prioritised and promoted. The ethical principles of social justice include:
- Challenging oppression
- Respecting diversity
- Distributing resources
- Challenging unjust policies and practices
- Working in solidarity
Social work requires you to take a strong stance against discrimination, working to support social justice in wider society. As part of your work, you challenge oppression to try and create an inclusive society with no tolerance for stigma. This also requires you to actively challenge internal biases of your own and embrace diversity in those you work with, from your teams to service users to external support.
As part of your work, it’s also important to advocate for fair access to resources. You have to challenge any prejudices that arise at every opportunity, as well as policies that don’t align with social justice. Social workers have to report policies and practices that don’t give people from all walks of life an equal chance to thrive.
Professional integrity forms the final part of the values and ethics in social work practice as laid out by the BASW. The ethical principles of professional integrity include:
- Upholding the values and reputation of the profession
- Being trustworthy
- Maintaining professional boundaries
- Making considered professional judgements
- Being transparent and professionally accountable
Ethics in social work require you to be honest and trustworthy. You also have to use good judgement and considered reasoning in every aspect of your work.
You have to maintain the principles of your profession and be reliable in all areas of your work, with open communication about every decision you make. As a social worker, you also need to be able to justify and take responsibility for these actions to anyone you work with, from service users to employers and the public.
Being held accountable by regulatory bodies means you’ll need to be familiar with the guidance you’re expected to comply with. Regularly updating your knowledge and skills will enable you to stay informed on your industry, along with keeping abreast of relevant laws and legislation that impact your work.
Social work opportunities with Liquid Personnel
If you’re looking to take the next step forward in your social work career, you’ll find a whole world of opportunities awaiting you when you sign up with Liquid Personnel. We work with over 150 organisations and are exclusively partnered with a number of employers to provide you with access to the widest range of social work jobs.
With an in-depth understanding of the social work profession, we can help you find your perfect role in social work that matches your goals, brings you lasting fulfilment and takes your career to new heights.
Get in touch to find out what we’re recruiting for right now and how we can help your job search today.