Compromise is hard, one of the secrets of the art of compromise is having all parties leave the table believing that they won. And yet, when it comes to social workers, it seems as though compromise means getting the least, and expecting to rejoice. Compromise should be similar to a scenario where you need a car, and want a Lexus. You go into the dealership and can’t afford a Lexus, but working with the salesman you get a nice Volkswagen, and the dealer gets a fair commission, even if it isn’t what it would have been on a high end car. Social workers seem to get a different result when they compromise. See they go into the dealership wanting a Volkswagen, and ends up with the bicycle for the same price. Sure, it’ll get you from A to B, but it won’t be easy. And the dealer? They made the deal of a lifetime.
Why is this? Well a brief examination shows that social workers are considered to low-man on the totem pole in the mental health field. We work with every aspect of society, but if you were to ask what people thought, the idea that comes to mind is those who work with the poor, and underprivileged. The stigma cast upon our clients has transferred to our profession. Psychiatry is sexy. Psychologists have respectability and distinguish. But Social Work? We have to fight for our status as worthy, just as we do with our client’s worth. And the demand to be held in high regard is often met with “it’s a compromise,” and “it’s a long struggle.” We fool ourselves into believing that band-aides of a “world social work day” will uplift us higher. The reason we don’t need “CEO appreciation day” is because the respect and power is already there.
The Answer is not to compromise on our worth, and the answer is not to give up on the fight for issues keeping social workers oppressed. Social workers must continue to unite and strive to lift the profession. We must become our own advocates and become involved in the policies that impact us. This is not something to be left for others, with the hope they have our interests first. We need social work leaders who are accessible and able to continually advocate for the changes that need to occur, because we can be doing better. This cannot work behind the scenes. Each social worker in the country should know who is fighting for them and join in the effort. Social workers must be one voice.
Find your voice with Social Justice Solutions.
By: Courtney Kidd, LMSW
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