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What We Stand For: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

BASW CEO Ruth Allen introduces our vision for EDI and anti-racism and outlines the values that underpin this vital work

In the lead up to our Annual General Meeting on 15 September 2021, we are releasing weekly updates on some key priorities for the organisation under the heading ‘What We Stand For’. These themes, of which there are six, don’t represent all we are working on and prioritising - but crucially, they reflect important issues that we absolutely need to address as an organisation – and some are things that get less air time in our sector.

BASW has had a strong stated commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI throughout most - if not all - of its 51-year history.

But statements and actions are not always the same. Our aim for BASW now is to be a welcoming, safe and valued professional home for social workers of all identities and personal characteristics, promoting the most inclusive and anti-oppressive social work practices for people across society. 

To become that means BASW developing our commitment to EDI and anti-racism in tangible and visible forms. It means more diversity in the member leadership and in all of our member groups and branches; more inclusivity in our activities, events and courses; ensuring we operate in ways that make it easy for all social workers to get involved; having a culture and language that draws people in; and having partnerships, alliances and solidarity with diverse groups and communities, particularly amplifying work to extend human rights and social justice across the UK and internationally.

BASW Council has established the EDI Advisory Group to Council (EDIAG) – a group of members with interests, experiences and expertise relevant to all forms of exclusion and discrimination, able to advise and support Council and the rest of the association in our strategy, and to help hold BASW to account.

Over the past six months we have employed three part-time EDI leads; Wayne Reid* focusing on anti-racism in England; Shantel Thomas focusing on anti-racism across the other nations of the UK, and Narinder Sidhu* focusing on overarching EDI priorities and the intersectionality of different characteristics of inclusion/exclusion in lived experience.

It is wonderful to have these colleagues helping members and staff learn more about and focus on EDI issues and how we make change both within BASW and across the sector. They can shine a light and take brilliant actions to make a difference. They can support members and other staff also showing leadership and commitment in extending inclusion and equality.

But of course, in the long term, this is the responsibility of each and every member and of all staff in BASW, and a responsibility of social workers everywhere.

I encourage members, partners and allies to explore the work we're doing around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Anti-Racism - check out our 'EDI and anti-racism in social work' web hub, which is a useful collection of our work on these crucial issues to date.

Our former EDI Lead Officer, Narinder Sidhu*, has also written a powerful blog summarising our actions over the last six months and looking ahead as we continue to strive to turn words into actions.

* Wayne Reid and Narinder Sidhu are no longer part of the EDI team

Dr. Ruth Allen, BASW UK CEO