Ethical Standard of the Month

compass with the word ethics

The Office of Ethics and Professional Review is pleased to introduce the 2018 Ethical Standard of the Month (ESOM) series that will walk through the newly revised NASW Code of Ethics, highlighting significant revisions. The ESOM examines specific standards from the NASW Code of Ethics and related resources that promote the understanding and appropriate application of the Code

1.03 Informed Consent

Standard 1.03 of the NASW Code of Ethics was subject to significant revisions that were largely related to social workers’ policies and procedures concerning the use of technology in the provision of professional services. The revisions incorporate new standards that explicitly address the use of technology and the importance of offering consumers alternatives in the delivery of their services. Hence, this section, which previously included six standards, has now been expanded to include an additional standard.


1.04 Competence

Changes to section 1.04 largely focus on social workers’ competency as it relates to using technology and embarking on the use of new forms of technology. Competence-related ethical practice has always emphasized that social workers pursue the necessary knowledge, training, certification, licensure, and experience prior to providing professional service, and the recent revisions call out this expectation specifically as it relates to the use of technology. Two additional standards (1.04d and e) were added to ensure that technology-related competence concerns are specified.


1.05 Cultural Awareness and Social Diversity

Revisions related to standard 1.05 included a change to the title from “Cultural Competence and Social Diversity” to “Cultural Awareness and Social Diversity.” The rationale for this change was based on literature and the ongoing discussion about whether it is realistic that social workers actually become competent in all cultures. It was determined that a more realistic expectation is that social workers continuously seek knowledge and improve their skills and ability to meet the needs of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds.