• Date of adoption of statement: July 26th 2021
  • Review date: By 31st July 2022
  • Statement owner: Policy Ethics and Human Rights Committee

BASW UK Statement on Anti-Racism

BASW is committed to working to end racism and oppression in social work and across society as part of our all-embracing commitment to promoting human rights, equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for all. This is guided by our UK Code of Ethics (2021) and described in our overarching statement on EDI.

BASW will work in collaboration and collectively with committed and supportive organisations and individuals across the social work sector to pursue anti-racism and amplify our collective efforts. As the professional association for social workers across the UK, we must continue to build our leadership role in tackling racism in all its forms as it affects our profession and the people we support.

BASW UK statements on aspects of oppression racism may be amplified by country-level statements and examples. 

BASW focuses its efforts on promoting anti-racism in respect of:

  • the experiences and working life of social workers and social work students
  • social work practice
  • the experiences and rights of people using social work services

BASW also acts to promote an inclusive, more equal society. We will speak out and challenge racism and social division across societies in the UK on behalf of our members and the profession.  We will support our colleagues in the International Federation of Social Workers and other organisations in their efforts to combat racism across the world.

Our practice guidance and professional development offers for social workers will routinely embed anti-racist, anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory ethics, knowledge and skills.  It will draw on best evidence and resources from BASW and others and will be co-produced with people who use/have used services with relevant lived experience of oppression.


BASW UK adopts from the view of the Equality and Human Rights Commission[1]and recognises that race can mean colour, or nationality (including citizenship) and also covers all ethnic and racial groups. This means a group of people who all share the same protected characteristic of ethnicity or race. 

Racism is when a person is treated worse, excluded, disadvantaged, harassed, bullied, humiliated or degraded because of any of these characteristics. BASW recognises that certain groups in society – particularly Black, Asian and other Minoritised[2] Ethnic groups in the UK (such as but not limited to Jewish, Romani Gypsy and Traveller people) experience specific, pernicious and structural forms of racism.

We recognise and work to combat different forms of structural racism (such as anti-Semitism, anti-Gypsyism, and in the case of Muslim minoritized ethnic groups, islamophobia) which both create and sustain multiple disadvantages, inequalities and other threats and harms.

BASW recognises that forms and impact of racism will vary according to the specifics of the racist action (including speech) its nature, extent, context and impact.

While definitions aligned to legislation and human rights conventions are vital, we understand that to understand racism and its impacts we must always consider the individual or group’s experience and personal definitions.  We also understand – in alignment with BASW UK’s overarching EDI statement – that experiences of racism may intersect with other aspects of identity and oppression creating distinctive personal experiences.

In practice, social workers should seek to understand and act to support a person, family or group’s lived experience and personal definition of racism - and the form of support, redress or other action they seek.

BASW also recognises racism can operate at an organisational and institutional level, for instance embedded ways of working that (consciously or unconsciously) create unequal access to services, opportunities and rights in the workplace.

As in all forms of social work, social workers should be able to act as advocates and enabling, empowering supporters and allies against racism appropriate to the situation. Advocacy to tackle racism may include challenging racism within systems and organisations including social workers’ own employing organisation or place of education. As an organisation, BASW will act – and provide solidarity to others acting – to challenge racism at the individual, group, community and institutional levels within the social work sector.

BASW UK actions against racism and oppression July 2021 - June 2022

BASW will continue to develop specific, UK wide actions against racism as laid out in its overarching EDI Project Plan. These will include (and may be further developed from) the following:          

  • Meet BASW’s transformation standards for Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic membership of governance and leaderships structures – including Council, committees and other member groups.
  • Ensure Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic social workers/members have equal access to all BASW services tailored to their needs and equipping them to advance in the profession.
  • Continue to develop our Advice & Representation Service in partnership with the Social Workers Union, to provide increasingly valued support to members experiencing racism at work.
  • Embed anti-racism into working conditions campaign for all social workers, influencing the culture within employing organisations, developing guidance and support for employers to review their current policies and practices to prevent racism.
  • Ensure our professional development and CPD offers embed anti-racism in all courses and resource.
  • Ensure BASW as an employer has an open and safe staff culture that values, supports and develops Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic staff members and diversifies staff leadership.
  • Promote Black Asian and Minoritised Ethnic leadership across social work and support all social work leaders to be anti-racist and anti-oppressive in their leadership practice.
  • Work with social work educators to de-colonise the qualifying curriculum and increase content that reflects equality, diversity and inclusion imperatives in practice and in the working lives of social workers.
  • Work with universities/social work educators and social work students to tackle racism and discrimination experienced by Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic students
  • Promote anti-racism in social work and society through production of ‘thought leadership’, practice guidance, ethical statements, policy critiques and other writing, audio-visual and media output.
  • Update our members and supporters on our progress monthly via Professional Social Work magazine, the BASW website, ebulletins and other accessible channels/platforms
  • Work in partnership, solidarity and allyship with other organisations and individuals in social work to collectively tackle racism and promote equality, diversity and inclusion, including working collaboratively on anti-racism campaigns.
  • Work with the International Federation of Social Work regarding an international response to the ongoing effects of institutional and structural racism.


Members can send comments on this statement to comms@basw.co.uk

[1] https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/race-discrimi...

[2] The term minoritised, coined by Yasmin Gunaratnum in 2003, provides a social constructionist approach to understanding that people are actively minoritised – or ‘racialised’ - by others rather than naturally existing as a minority or racial or ethnic group, as the terms racial minorities or ethnic minorities imply. The term racially minoritised (or racialised minorities) confirms that so-called minoritisation is a social process shaped by power. (After Adrienne Milner, Sandra Jumbe The Lancet, Vol. 5. August 2020)