Obtaining resources, advocacy, and documentation make up the trio of what I call social work 101.
I am an advocate. Always have been, always will be.
I often say that everyone wants a social worker…until they start social working! True social workers challenge oppressive systems.
I advocated for my clients when I was doing direct services, I advocated for my programs and program participants as Director of Programs. I advocated for my staff and interns. I advocated for my students. I advocated for myself, but not always as fiercely as I advocated for others.
I am not the person to start foolishness and I have certainly let foolishness slide, but what I will not do is allow anyone to compromise my reputation, safety, or performance. Line in the sand.
I’ve been called confrontational simply because I challenged wrongs. I’ve been called aggressive, not assertive because I raised awareness of unfairness. I’ve been called defensive when I refused to allow others to project their assumptions onto me. And I would do it again and again.
What I have seen in my clients and other Women of Color in leadership is that we won’t run from a fight, but sometimes the things we’re fighting for are to our detriment, Here are 3 things that I want us to stop fighting:
- Stop fighting with yourself – You know what you want and what you need. Stop fighting against your brilliance. Stop fighting against your desire for elevation. You are enough! Let yourself be you.
- Stop fighting to stay in toxic workplaces – Micromanagers, shady coworkers, low pay, huge caseloads, long commutes. Stop trying to convince yourself that things aren’t as bad as they are. Your confidence and mental health can’t take more abuse. You can have better. Set a date, develop a plan, and make an exit! It’s time to thrive.
- Stop fighting for the old, narrow view of social work – You don’t have to do social work the way your supervisor or professors did. You have new tools, new connections, and new ideas – use them all to assist your clients. Social work skills are high-income skills, and you can be paid well to do good work. Oh, and remember that if you are successfully using your social work skills and education in a job, then you are doing social work.
Related: What Are You Still Waiting For?
Fight for increase and elevation. Fight for peace and joy. Fight for fair pay and livable wages. Fight for the job and career that you desire and deserve. Fight for career fulfillment!
Nicki Sanders, MSW, CEO, is a Career and Empowerment Strategist who helps high-performing women of color in management go from overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated to energized, well paid, and appreciated. Through Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, she also helps businesses recruit, hire, train, and retain great employees. Nicki has an extensive background in developing and managing successful programs and leading high-functioning multi-disciplinary teams. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life she loves. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.
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