Published on July 19, 2014
Ethical standards assignment: Ethical standards assignment By Maggie Lynn, University of New England NASW Ethical Standard : NASW Ethical Standard 1.05 Cultural Competence and Social Diversity (a) Social workers should understand culture and its function in human behavior and society, recognizing the strengths that exist in all cultures. (b) Social workers should have a knowledge base of their clients’ cultures and be able to demonstrate competence in the provision of services that are sensitive to clients’ cultures and to differences among people and cultural groups. (c) Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability. Understanding diversity: Understanding diversity Ethical standards are either fixed or relative: fixed or universal, meaning that an ethical standard such as cultural diversity is always right or wrong regardless of cultural mores and norms; or relative, which would hold that ethical standards such as cultural diversity is only right or wrong as validated by cultural mores and norms and that no common standards exist cross-culturally (Healy, 2007, p.12). The current NASW Code of Ethics holds a common standard exists – there are fixed ethical standards and upholding them is the ethical responsibility of all social workers. Including diversity as part of the NASW Code of Ethics promotes beneficence: rather than simply saying social workers shouldn’t discriminate, it prescribes a code of positive behaviors that social workers must do to be considered ethical rather than simply outlining which negative behaviors are unethical (Walker & Staton , 2000). CRITICISMS OF ETHICAL STANDARD: Walker & Staton: CRITICISMS OF ETHICAL STANDARD : Walker & Staton Defining multiculturalism as an area of practice knowledge creates a conception of multiculturalism and diversity as “an objective knowledge area rather than stands as a guiding belief or value in the profession” (Walker & Staton , 2000 , p.450) . Defining diversity as something that can be or should be mastered makes interaction with clients almost irrelevant to social worker’s knowledge, creating a possibility of unethical actions under the aegis of meeting the standards of the Code of Ethics. The issue Walker and Staton raise is that cultural competence is part of a virtuous, rather than ethical, practice “where the client's well-being is the sole goal and that would depend heavily upon sensitivity to the client's culture” (2000, p.458). T he ethical standard should be empathy and respect for clients, as an amalgamation of personal experiences that include culture. CRITICISMS OF ETHICAL STANDARD: Healy: CRITICISMS OF ETHICAL STANDARD : Healy Fixed standard requires social workers to respect, honor, and support cultural values creating a complex fixed standard that requires support for cultural relativism. This type of cultural relativism, which also includes “non-interference with cultural practices such as female circumcision, corporal punishment of children, bride price and dowry”, creates a dangerous ethical precedent which ignores a social worker’s larger ethical duty to social justice (Healy, 2007, p 23). Critical that ethical standards include context. While a standard such as respect for cultural diversity seems straightforward, there are clearly ways in which a positive professional value can be utilized to support unethical norms, mores, and values . CRITICAL THINKING: JACKSON & SAMUELS: CRITICAL THINKING: JACKSON & SAMUELS Jackson and Samuels posit that in order to meet the NASW Code of Ethics standard for culturally supportive services, social workers need “a culturally attuned practice” (2011, p.235). While the ideal of this article is to provide social workers with a guidepost for meeting their ethical obligations under NASW ethical standard 1.05, their definition of culturally attuned practice contains problematic elements. Stating “that by comprehending the experiences of multiracial people and how multiracial identities are influenced by multisystemic factors, including the intersection of other identities (for example, gender, socioeconomic status, sexuality), we can expand rather than constrict the lens social workers use to understand ethical and cultural identity processes within and across diverse groups” (2011, p.235) . W hile they later point out that “being culturally attuned is not a fixed status”, they don’t ever address how the narrative of attunement they create skates perilously close to appropriating the client’s experiences as our own knowledge (2011, p.237). DIVERITY AT THE AMERICAN RED CROSS: DIVERITY AT THE AMERICAN RED CROSS THE AMERICAN RED CROSS PROMOTE A POLICY OF TOTAL DIVERSITY The American Red Cross provides training on diversity, inclusion, and cultural competency across all levels of the organization. The Red Cross “is committed to a policy of Total Diversity” (New Employee & Volunteer Orientation [NEVO], 2011). The policy “is focused on workforce diversity; is designed to inspire the spirit of diversity; conveys a message of recognition and appreciation ; includes education, training and engagement programs and tools” (Diversity 101, 2011) The goal of these policies is to create “a culturally proficient organization [which] holds culture in high esteem and uses this foundation to guide all endeavors, including research, organizational practices , knowledge transfer, resource development, employment practices , advocacy, and partnership development” (The Essential Themes of Cultural Competence, 2014). The Red Cross also provides diversity education via the Cultural Competency Series, “a monthly education seminar focused on the unique cultural characteristics of a different diverse community each month. Presenters are recognized subject matter experts from outside of the Red Cross” (Fact Sheet, 2014). These seminars cover a variety of different topics, including: the emerging multicultural mainstream; improving practice with transgender clients; and p roviding culturally competent service to undocumented p eople. Thank you!: Thank you!