60 Years of the NASW Code of Ethics

60 Years, Code of Ethics

NASW’s Delegate Assembly approved the first edition of the NASW Code of Ethics on October 13, 1960. Since then, the Code has emerged as the standard bearer for defining the values and principles that guide social workers’ conduct in all practice areas.

Highlights from the Code of Ethics

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Social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person

Social workers treat each person in caring and respectful fashion, mindful of individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity.

1.05: Cultural Awareness & Social Diversity

Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression.

6.01 Social Welfare

Social workers should advocate for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs and should promote social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice.

Social workers challenge social injustice

Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people.

4.01 Competence

Social workers should critically examine and keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to social work. Social workers should routinely review the professional literature and participate in continuing education relevant to social work practice and social work ethics.

6.04 Social & Political Action

Social workers should promote policies and practices that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and institutions that demonstrate cultural competence and promote policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social justice for all people.

Social workers recognize the central importance of human relationships

Social workers understand that relationships between and among people are an important vehicle for change. Social workers engage people as partners in the helping process.

4.02 Discrimination

Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical ability.

6.04 Social & Political Action

Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote justice.

Code of Ethics

The NASW Code of Ethics offers a set of values, principles and standards to guide decision-making and everyday professional conduct of social workers.

Read the Code of Ethics