We have an exciting opportunity to change social work's professional story line together. If we have a part to play in the perpetuation of negative or devaluing messages about our worth-professional or financial, we also have the power to change them. Balanced and proactive messaging is a vital part of this process. Change the message- change the story! Remember that the stories we tell ourselves become our truths, so let’s choose them wisely.
Pledge right now to no longer use language like “it’s not about the money,” or even, “social workers don’t (or won’t) make much money.”
Discourage others from making jokes including these messages or variations of them.
Encourage positive and proactive professional self-talk. Remember that the stories we tell ourselves become our truths, so let’s choose wisely.
Begin to ask yourself: what is YOUR financial worth? What does that look like to you? How can you affirm it in a positive way to yourself, your peers and professional community starting now?
We all have a responsibility to help new social workers (or social workers in any stage of their career for that matter) to identify and cultivate advocacy skills that will promote change around this issue. I recommend we include students in all messaging and future research efforts- let the new messages grow up with them.
Participants of all career stages should be included in crafting the messaging and story line for social work’s “rebranding.” We need to ask important questions about what matters and what gets their attention. This process is only effective if it’s collective. This is the value of communications in the social work world- we are the managers of our own brand. We must unapologetically define our role in the world and then help ALL social workers (starting with students) learn how to articulate that.
Now, it’s no joke that externally dictated factors like gender-based professional and financial disempowerment, funding struggles, and a lack of public concern to collectively address the needs of the populations we serve are real threats to the changes I‘m suggesting. Don’t get lost in that. Focus on the part you can control, which is the way you treat yourself and subsequently teach others how to treat you.
Our work matters - we deserve pay that matches. I argue that before we can change the numbers- and I mean truly change them- we have to make sure we’ve identified and chosen our beliefs about our worth, rather than just accepting the ones that were already there. Those tapes are OUT OF DATE. As change agents, we owe it to each other to continue having this conversation, and to think more critically about the way we talk to ourselves about ourselves. We are worth the conversation – we are SOCIALWORTHIT!