A Culture of Collaboration

By Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW

Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW

Sandwiched between the euphoria of the 2018 midterm election and the highly anticipated 2020 presidential campaign is the less-anticipated current year of 2019. The forward-looking focus on 2020 has seemingly rendered this year a mere afterthought — simply 12 months to endure.

But consider how a strong, productive 2019 can lay the groundwork for 2020 and help make recent gains matter. In 20 years, historians may point to this year as the pivotal moment in our journey toward progress, equality and justice.

What will it take to make 2019 not only good, but great? What will it take to make it a great year for social workers?

Recently, I attended a Social Work Leadership Roundtable where leaders discussed ways to advance and strengthen the profession. The overwhelming point of consensus that emerged from the discussions is the need for more collaboration.

The group discussed that our collaboration must be built on shared vision, shared goals, shared commitment, and, among many other things, a willingness to "sacrifice" for the greater good of the profession. As the discussion unfolded, participants were inspired toward cooperation rather than competition, collective versus "siloed-thinking," and consideration of new creative ways to contribute.

The growing sense of alliance emerging from the roundtable is congruent with the high value NASW places on collaboration-as reflected in its 2018-2021 strategic plan. Collaboration is elevated as one of the plan's "six strong ideas," which represent six focal points that guide the Association's commitment to advance social work excellence.

NASW's commitment to collaboration also is evident in this year's Social Work Month activities. The 2019 theme, "Elevate Social Work," reflects NASW's commitment to protect and promote social workers at every opportunity in 2019-and beyond.

This year's Social Work Month theme is similar to a "two-sided" coin: On one side, it focuses on elevating public awareness about the transformational work social workers do every day; and on the other side, it emphasizes elevating public acknowledgement and recognition of important workforce issues, such as social work salaries, caseloads and safety.

NASW is committed to being a strong voice for the need to increase pay, salaries and reimbursement rates for social workers. Only by coming together and working in association can we achieve our goal to increase salaries and accelerate our work to elevate and advance social workers and the profession.

Before winter turns to spring, commit to making the most of 2019 and joining the growing culture of collaboration spreading across the social work profession.

Contact me at naswceo@socialworkers.org.