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Cultural Diversity, Cultural Competence, and Ethical Social Work Practice
The United States of the 21st century is a patchwork land of many cultures: racial, ethnic, religious, geographic, gender, age, and even physical status. Each culture has its own worldview, relationship guidelines, family structure, spiritual mindsets, and values. In their work, social workers inevitably encounter persons from cultures different from their own, and these differences can be challenging obstacles to effective, ethical practice.
The values of the profession, as articulated in the NASW Code of Ethics, ask us to honor the dignity and worth of our clients, to respect their autonomy, and to practice competently. The ethical mandate of competence includes what has been called “Cultural Competence”.
We will address the idea that some situations may make ethical competence impractical or impossible, and approaches to these situations. We will also address the benefit, when working cross-culturally, of maintaining an attitude of humility and interest in other cultures.
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