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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is committed to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).  Our organization will continue advocating for programs and dialogue rooted in justice as they are aligned with our profession’s code of ethics on anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and anti-discriminatory practices and policies. 

DEI at its core is about respect and collaboration. 

The field of DEI in the United States originated in the 1960s during the height of the civil rights movement. The Civil Rights Act itself outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, required equal access to public places and employment, and enforced desegregation of schools and the right to vote. 

The Civil Rights Act was a watershed moment in our country’s history.

Research tells us that DEI programs continue to have a positive economic impact on society. They result in improved health care outcomes, greater educational attainment, higher employee morale, and foster a sense of connection and community. Like the Civil Rights Act, modern DEI programs highlight social injustices and seek to provide solutions that both address harm done to marginalized people, while creating innovative pathways to success for everyone.

As a profession, social workers embrace the intrinsic role we have in combatting discrimination, oppression, racism, and social inequities while ensuring that all people from all communities have access to needed information, services, and resources. 

The NASW Code of Ethics calls on all members of the social work profession to practice through an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens. This includes supporting activities, such as DEI programs, that promote sensitivity to and knowledge about exclusion and the disproportionality of discrimination when intersecting with diverse identities.

Our code of ethics reflects these values by requiring that “social workers demonstrate knowledge that guides practice … in the provision of culturally informed services that empower marginalized individuals and groups. Social workers must take action against oppression, racism, discrimination, and inequities, and acknowledge personal privilege.”

Our nation increasingly reflects a more ethnically and racially diverse population.  And our institutions have evolved to recognize the full humanity of people from many different faiths, sexual and gender identities, physical abilities, and cultural backgrounds.  As a profession and as a society, we will be called to adapt to the challenges and rewards that come with this growing diversity. 

•    While NASW celebrates the contributions made by all people to this nation, we often highlight those people whose contributions have been erased because of their identities.  

•    NASW will also use its influence and resources to strengthen civil rights where they’ve been previously denied.  

•    NASW will work collaboratively with other social justice organizations to amplify these issues locally and nationally. 

The work of achieving a sense of belonging for all people in all communities can be difficult, and we acknowledge that misinformation and fear can derail these efforts.   We believe that with courage, meaningful public discourse, and constant input from our members and the communities social workers serve NASW can help serve as a catalyst to help our nation achieve its promise of equal rights and treatment for all.

Learn more about NASW's work



The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.