How to build a more inclusive workplace for social workers
Charlie is a registered social worker but decided to move out of statutory social work to find new ways to ensure that young people, within the LGBTQIA+ community, receive the support they need from their social workers.
I’m passionate about working with children and young people, and that has been the focus of my career so far. Part of the reason I decided not to go into practice as a social worker, was because I wanted to use my experiences to ensure social workers have the education and training they need to support children and families from the LGBTQIA+ community. Social workers support children and families from different communities, backgrounds and identities, and a big part of the work being done at Frontline, within the Fellowship, is to provide a space for them to think about how they can ensure that their practice is anti-discriminatory, anti-racist and inclusive for all.
It’s so important that all local authorities and social workers practice inclusivity and celebrate diversity within any working environment. One of the ways that this could be done, practically, is to have continuous learning and development around LGBTQIA+, racialised minorities, disabled and neurodivergent issues.
I would love to see this embedded into employees CPD to make sure they have time and space to learn about this as they progress, but also to hold them to account on educating themselves.
Another way that local authorities can practice inclusivity is by ensuring the leadership landscape represents people from different identities and communities in leadership positions. Representation is crucial within positions of influence; if a manager or practice supervisor identified as LGBTQIA+, or knew someone close to them who identified as trans or non-binary, there would be more of an implicit understanding of how to provide affirming care and allyship for a young person, but also to those working within the local authority.
While I was completing my placement, I wish I had asked about my local authorities’ policies on anti-discrimination and anti-racism. For anyone who is from the LGBTQIA+ community, neurodivergent or any racialised minority, it is so important to ask those questions. You need to be working somewhere that is safe for you, and that you are surrounded by people who understand who you are.
It’s also vital for you to know who your allies are within your local authority and to work with them to ensure that all social workers are holding up the local authorities’ values on diversity and inclusion
Frontline is drawing on people with a social work background and experiences to help social workers develop their knowledge around diversity and inclusion, embed this into their practice and, most importantly, better support children and young people who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. If just one social worker can relate better to a young person, who identifies as non-binary or trans, and they have been provided with the skills and the knowledge to understand the experiences of marginalised groups then I think our work is making an impact.