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Equality and diversity

Nayak, S 2013, 'Equality and diversity' , in: Key Concepts in Social Work Practice , Sage, pp. 74-78.

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The concepts of equality and diversity are at the heart of Sojourner Truth’s speech delivered in 1851 at the Women's Convention on equal rights in Ohio, where baring her breasts, she asked a curious question, ‘Ain't I a woman?’. This situation has more resonance with social work than is first apparent. Sojourner Truth challenged notions of equality that did not recognize and excluded her on the basis of racial and social differences – she was a black slave. In terms of social work the question is, who represents the metaphorical Sojourner Truth? Or, which people and communities are not recognised, marginalised and excluded by social work and why? This chapter examines how the relationship between inclusion and exclusion is contingent on recognition and lack of recognition of the ‘interdependency of difference’ (Lorde 1979 p111). Sojourner Truth’s identity as a black slave was recognized, but this became a basis for not recognizing other aspects of her identity, such as her gender and eligibility for particular rights. She was seen as ‘Other’. The concept of the ‘Other’ produces a false binary of us and them. This is a tension that social work must guard against if it wants to adhere to The BASW code of ethics, which states that one of the primary objectives of social work is, ‘The fair and equitable distribution of resources. . . Equal treatment and protection under the law. . . seeking to alleviate and advocating strategies for overcoming structural disadvantage.’ (3.2) Within the GSCC code of practice non discriminatory practice is intrinsic to public trust and confidence, maintaining, regulating and raising national standards in social care services (sections 1 and 5). Promoting and respecting equality of opportunity, dignity and diversity is not an arbitrary matter of the personal beliefs or values of individual social workers; it is enshrined in professional codes of practice, conduct and ethics. The Equality Act 2010, followed on 5 April 2011 with the public sector Equality Duty includes age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment. Public bodies including social work are legally bound to consider all individuals in developing policy, delivering services and in relation to their own employees. The Equality Act defines equality as ‘everyone having the same chances to do what they can. Some people may need extra help to get the same chances’. The Equality Act identifies two particular duties namely the Socio-economic Duty and the Equality Duty. The Equality Act recognises that positive action may need to be taken in order to achieve the socio-economic and equality duty.

Item Type: Book Section
Editors: Worsley, A, Mann, T, Olsen, A and Mason-Whitehead, E
Schools: Schools > School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences
Publisher: Sage
Refereed: Yes
ISBN: 9781446207291
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: Dr Suryia Nayak
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2015 18:09
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2016 19:28

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