#MacroSW Chat for 11/30/2017: Professional Transparency in Social Work Practice

Chat archive: Read the Storify transcript here.

For this week, #MacroSW will feature Elizabeth Flood, LSW, on the subject of transparency. As always, this week’s #MacroSW chat will be held at 9 p.m. eastern.

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 6.30.20 PMTransparency in nonprofit and for-profit organizations is an essential component of gaining and maintaining a consumer base. Directors, administrators and social work professionals follow the basic expectations of practice, only to hear stories and cases of unethical behaviors in organizations.  These instances of conduct in organizations degrade and disintegrate the confidence of the public trust. According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), ethical conduct is paramount to professional and responsible stewardship in the provision of services. The conduct of one professional governs the reputation of all social workers, affecting the reputation of the profession as one the public can solidly trust to provide competent biopsychosocial services throughout all facets of community service.

When we think about ethics, we may think about a set of behaviors governed by rules, in which the autonomy and freedom of all are respectively and cooperatively maintained.  There are instances in which behaviors are overt, such as notorious cases in which public officials have been found guilty or were forced to admit guilt.  Examples have been seen in cases such as the Menendez therapist in California, the Kids for Cash scheme in Pennsylvania and the Holly Tour holiday toy scandal in Maryland.  On the other hand, we have less obvious or subvert cases of unethical behaviors.  Examples may include: when clients in a nursing home are moved to less desirable conditions to make room for higher classes or groups of clients with desirable economic sources; when a new Executive Director of a nonprofit organization creates a new executive position for a young administrative employee who tagged along from a former organization.

The #MacroSW chat on November 30, 2017 will be centered on the topic of transparency when it comes to unethical behaviors in organizations and the role social workers play in such affairs.  The chat will feature and explore the following questions:

Q1: Do you have an experience you’d like to share in which you have witnessed or heard of unethical practices amongst leadership or employees in nonprofit or profit organizations?

Q2:  What are some model behaviors you may have witnessed or seen enacted which strengthen an organization and its employees? Clients?

Q3:  With the advent of the HR profession, including recruiters and consultants, interests are trending towards advancing and protecting leadership and the financial viability of the organization’s existence.  How may macro Social Workers advocate to fill in the gaps and ethically ensure the interests of other key voiceless players, such as employees and clients, are also advanced?

Q4:  What are some solutions or recommendations you would like to suggest to address issues of unethical behaviors encouraged by leadership within organizations?


Abrahamson, A.  (1997, January 4).  Menendez Brothers’ Therapist Loses License.  Los Angeles Times.  Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/1997-01-04/local/me-15399_1_menendez-brothers

Barsky, A.  (2010).  Social Workers As Whistleblowers.  The New Social Worker.

Retrieved from http://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/ethics-articles/Social_Workers_as_Whistle_Blowers/

 Luzurne County Kids For Cash Scandal.  (n.d.).  Retrieved November 21, 2017, from Juvenile Law Center website, http://jlc.org/luzerne-county-kids-cash-scandal

NASW Code of Ethics.  (2017).  Retrieved November 21, 2017, from National Association of Social Workers website, https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English

Rodricks, D.  (2009, November 17).  Is Taking Some Gift Cards A Big Deal? Ask Lindbergh Carpenter-He Lost His Job For It.  The Baltimore Sun.  Retrieved from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bal-rodricks1117-column.html

The Whistleblower Protection Programs.  (n.d.)  Retrieved November 21, 2017, from Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor website, https://www.whistleblowers.gov/

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