Professionalism and anti-Blackness in social work agency culture
School for Social Work
Professional employees, Discrimination in employment, African Americans-Employment, African American social workers, Racism, Cultural competence, Professionalism, Anti-Blackness, Social work, Critical Whiteness studies, Workplace studies, Critical race theory, Organizational culture, Cultural competency
This exploratory study sought to answer two overarching research questions: (1) To what extent is there color-blind anti-Black bias in the way that professionalism is defined and enforced in social work agency culture? (2) What are exacerbating and ameliorating factors for this anti-Black bias? I developed a mixed-methods online questionnaire and recruited 246 participants via e-mail and Facebook. Participants were mostly White female social workers 18-39 years old, though the sample was disproportionately African American as compared with the general social worker population. When participants were asked if they perceived anti-Black bias in professionalism at their agencies, 42.7% answered yes while 57.3% answered no. A t-test demonstrated a significant difference in agencies’ percentage of African American staff members by reported bias (t(113) = 3.24, p = .002, two-tailed). Participants who answered yes to bias had a lower mean percentage of African American staff in their agencies (M = 2.70, SD = 1.17) than those who answered no (M = 3.49, SD = 1.37). There were no significant relationships found between bias reporting and age, race, or gender. However, a chi-square test found a significant difference in bias reporting by supervisory status (χ2(1, n = 115) = 4.18, p = .041, continuity corrected). A larger percentage of participants who were not in a supervisory role (58.7%) answered yes to anti-Black bias, compared to 41.3% of supervisors. Anti-racist trainings, anti-racist policies and procedures, and increased staff diversity were the three most common recommendations given to reduce anti-Black bias in professionalism. Overall, the findings suggest that anti-Black bias is widespread in social work professional culture, and that concerted reform efforts will be necessary to dismantle it.
Davis, Mark D., "We were treated like machines : professionalism and anti-Blackness in social work agency culture" (2016). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.