Training Focuses on Workforce Diversity

Social worker Gwendolyn Adam is the new training branch chief for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s Division of Research, Training and Education of the Health Resources and Services Administration.

She said one of her first projects is to update the national strategic plan for MCH training. With this goal, she invited NASW to a March workshop called “Diversity Across the Disciplines” to gain an understanding of the way social workers have promoted diversity in the workforce.

“As a training branch, we are looking at what other partners are doing to affect diversity in their organizations so we can update our strategic planning process,” Adam told NASW News.

“We invited key people in social work, nursing and medicine” and other health disciplines, she said. “We are seeking expertise and input on this plan in order to create a more diverse, robust, and representative workforce.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the non-Hispanic, Caucasian population is projected to decrease from 66 percent of the total population in 2008 to 46 percent of the total population in 2050. By 2023, the bureau predicts that more than half of all children will be from racial groups that are now in the minority.

Adam said a mission of the Health Resources and Services Administration is researching avenues to eliminate health disparities as they relate to race and ethnicity. A way to accomplish that goal is promoting a diverse workforce. “One of the things we are committed to is finding ways to ensure the workforce is reflective of the country,” she said.

“As a social worker, I know firsthand that social work, as a discipline, has a commitment to cultivate diversity,” Adam said. “Social work continues to be a leader in understand the complexities of diversity. I see social work as a pivotal player.”

Rita Webb, an NASW senior practice associate, discussed the association’s diversity efforts at the workshop. She said attendees were impressed with NASW’s efforts to publish bilingual guides and by its number of reports and materials promoting workforce diversity.

“It’s important to broaden what we have learned about and exchange it with other workforce leaders to broaden diversity,” Webb said.

Adam said she plans to continue to seek NASW’s assistance as her department refines its workforce diversity training goals.

Webb said she accepted Adam’s nomination to serve on the National Strategic Plan for Training Work Group, which will meet regularly to develop a 2010-15/20 draft plan.