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Social workers urged to update their equality diversity data in registration

The social work regulator in England is urging all social workers to update their diversity data to improve its understanding and reflect the identity of the profession.

18/08/22

Social workers urged to update their equality diversity data in registration

Social Work England is asking every social worker who is on their register to answer questions on equality and diversity when they renew their registration between 1 September and 30 November.

The regulator for all social workers in England says the data will help them “build an accurate picture of the workforce, and to understand and reflect the identity of this complex, often misunderstood and multifaceted profession that improves the lives of millions of people every day.”

“As a regulator tasked with protecting the public, building confidence in the profession and maintaining professional standards, Social Work England continually engages with people to promote national conversations about the role social work plays in addressing inequality. It is vital that Social Work England stays alert to the challenges surrounding equality, diversity and inclusion both within and outside of the profession,” the organisation said in a statement.

More than 8,600 social workers have already uploaded their data in the campaign – which is backed by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), Social Workers’ Union, UNISON, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), and Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS).

The regulator said that a complete picture of the workforce will enable Social Work England to analyse, understand and, if necessary, revise their rules, systems, and policies. The information will help Social Work England identify any trends or differences in outcomes for people in relation to their backgrounds. This ensures that the regulator’s policies and processes are fair and equal to everyone.

In 2020, Social Work England’s issues with diversity were highlighted in reports that Black, Asian and ethnic minority social workers were disproportionately subject to fitness to practise investigations. Additionally, it was reported that the panels ultimately making the decisions on social workers’ fitness to practise were, on average, less ethnically diverse than the social work workforce generally.

Sarah Blackmore, Executive Director of Professional Practice and External Engagement at Social Work England, said that Social Work England is in a unique position to capture information about the profession.

“During our first few years of operating, we have continually been reminded of the importance of gathering data.

“Over the last year, we have engaged and carried out research to help us to build a rich picture of the workforce.

“However, we know that so much more needs to be done to properly address issues of equality, diversity and inclusion. Working with the profession and other organisations is critical to ensure we succeed in our collective ambition to improve our services for social workers.”

Julia Ross, Chair of BASW, which is supporting the campaign, said that data and diversity are “two of the most important matters in dealing with our valuable and rich workforce.”

“We know that most employers struggle with this issue in being able to evidence any significant patterns and trends on registrants. This is vitally important for the regulatory bodies to better understand equality issues, access to continuing professional development as well as future career potential pathways and referrals to fitness to practise hearings. I hope by collaborating in this way, we will achieve this,” Julia said.

In an interview with Social Work Today last year, Ahmina Akhtar, the regulator’s head of equality, diversity and inclusion, said that getting robust data to inform the organisation’s action plan for equality, diversity and inclusion was at the very top of her agenda when she started the role in May.

“One of the things we’ve acknowledged as a young organisation is the fact there’s a significant lack of data across the board, not just in regard to [equality, diversity and inclusion]. Because the adults and children’s work force are quite separate, and we’ve got different organisations working in different ways, the data tends to be quite fragmented. I think it feels really important to be able to build a picture of social work more broadly.”

Read Social Work Today’s interview with Ahmina Akhtar: https://www.socialworktoday.co.uk/News/%E2%80%9CSocial-workers-are-well-placed-to-challenge-the-inequalities-that-exist-within-society%E2%80%9D

Social workers can share their diversity data by logging into their online account with Social Work England: https://auth.socialworkengland.org.uk/Account/Login

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