Administration and Culturally Competent Advocacy

How social work administrators might apply their leadership roles to increase cultural competency within their organizations

Social work administrators can use various strategies to promote cultural competence within the profession. Northouse (2013) suggests ways in which organizations can become acquainted with diversity and culture in the workplace. Providing training programs about diversity and culture to teach cultural competence, sensitivity and tackle issues associated with cultural differences (Northouse, 2013). Through these training, social workers can might become knowledgeable and aware of the differences existing among cultures in the workplace.   A true social work administer is able to instill and demonstrate cultural tolerance in the organization. Cultural diversity has created the need for administrators and managers to become competent in cross-cultural awareness.  Administrators can also advocate for the infusion and integration of cultural competence standards in the social work practice (Northouse,, 2013). The challenge the administer can face is defining operationalizing the concept of cultural competence. Making a case for cultural competency to the employees and other staff that consider their practice culturally competent can be challenging. Owing to the fluid nature of the concept of cultural concept, the administer may consider it unrealistic and unachievable.

Strategies social workers may use to become advocates for social change through cultural competence

Social workers can become agents of for social change via cultural competence by advocating for standards, policies and practices that are culturally responsive to the needs of the service population. To achieve this, they examine how the needs of diverse service users may be compatible or conflict with professional standards. In making appropriate referrals for diverse clients, social workers examine the impact of policies and programs of diverse groups, and advocate for changes to better serve these service populations (Chun-Chung Chow, & Austin, 2008). The integration of knowledge about service populations into specific policies, practices, standards and attitudes employed in appropriate cultural setting can improve quality of services provided. They must also advocate for organizational policies which help establish a diverse workforce and for the provision of culturally responsive services to their clientele (Hardina, D. (2007). Social workers can also take up leadership roles in spreading cross-cultural knowledge to embers of other professions. The social workers can strive to provide services that can be adjusted to fit the culture of service users. They can also be family-focused by being respectful and inclusive of families, and being ready to use natural helpers and support networks.


Chun-Chung Chow, J., & Austin, M. J. (2008). The culturally responsive social service agency: The application of an evolving definition to a case study. Administration in Social Work, 32(4), 39–64.

Hardina, D. (2007). An empowering approach to managing social service organizations. New York: Springer.

Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice (Sixth ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.

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