A Spotlight On The MSW Leader

Are you aware that professionals with Masters in Social Work (MSW) are found in fields such as government, law enforcement, and corporate realms? There is a disconnect in understanding on how MSWs create positive change in leadership positions across different professions. Furthermore, the stigma associated with social workers as being “baby snatchers,” are obstacles that need to be addressed in order for MSWs to gain the respect and prestige deserved. MSWs provide a human experience that is lacking in other professions.

We want to take a closer look into the macro practice to create awareness of the benefits of MSWs. We conducted a survey that consisted of 12 questions that was distributed to over 100 individuals from various professions nationwide. Over 100 professionals from various fields attested to the value added of MSWs in macro settings.

The sentiment across the board is indisputable, MSWs transferable skills sets are desired and appreciated in various fields such as education, government, nonprofit management, research, consultation, and law enforcement. 81% of respondents have an MSW in their respective fields and 76% of respondents strongly agreed that having an MSW within their workforce is valuable.

The top skills identified through our survey can be sorted in three categories: government, Interpersonal, and organizational.

Governmental skills identified by respondents are: advocacy, systems change, negotiation skills, and policy analysis. A respondent working in the California State Capitol stated, “having an MSW in our field has had the ability to impact policies that progress direct practices in improving the service delivery model of social work as a profession.” Another respondent shared, “MSWs have the unique ability to bring lessons and experience from direct service to the policy arena and vice versa.”

Top interpersonal skills identified were communication, resourcefulness, cultural competence, and critical thinking. A leader in a non-profit organization stated, “I have learned so much personally and professionally by having an MSW as a close colleague, especially as a model for handling challenging situations or difficult people. Articulate, thoughtful, and quick on their feet, MSW’s are a strong addition to any team.”

Organizational skills identified were conflict resolution, strategic planning, innovative, and strengths based approach. A respondent from the education profession stated, “in human service professions, I believe it is very important to have MSW on staff to assess the needs of systems and individuals and create holistic approach to address these needs.”

We acknowledge that there are perceived limitations in the social work profession. One respondent commented that MSW professionals have a “limited understanding of financial priorities and budgeting/economic analysis” while another respondent also stated that some MSW professionals have “no background in research methodology.” However, some MSW graduate programs offer learning opportunities in these areas. For example, the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California offers courses that focus on research methods, data-driven planning, program evaluation, quality improvement and finance analysis.

Social workers are courageous leaders with the capacity to work creatively, constructively and effectively with diverse populations in various fields. Survey results indicate that social workers excel in leadership capacities and bring inspiration and results in the business world while catalyzing social change. 97% of our respondents recommend hiring MSWs for leadership positions. Employers are highly encouraged to employ and utilized the multidisciplinary skill set that MSWs offer.

By: Jacqueline Coto, Rigo Estrada, Jessenia Reyes, and Rose Vazquez
University of Southern California
Infographic Link: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/1836550-msw-leader-copy

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