Social Work Ethic: See The Ethical Principles That Guides Social Workers

Some ethical values ​​and principles guide the operation of every profession. Social work as a career field is not exempt.

Social work professionals need to distinguish right from wrong and good from bad. To achieve this, a system of principles helps to guide the industry’s activities.

Moreso, the overarching mission of social work is to enhance human well-being and meet the basic human needs of all, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of the underprivileged. But it will be challenging to achieve this aim if sound and ethical values ​​are not in place.

We have compiled in this article the definitions, aims, criteria, and principles of social work ethics. Kindly read along.

What Is Social Work Ethic?

Social work ethics are the standard rules of proper conduct and behavior that guide social work professionals. It also involves acting in a manner consistent with what is generally regarded as good values ​​professionally, socially, and personally.

Furthermore, social work ethic helps workers maintain professional etiquette by recognizing and upholding core values. In other words, social workers swear by professional standards and principles throughout their careers.

Moreso, the nature of the social work profession requires one to work with a wide variety of populations.

As a result, workers face ethical dilemmas in upholding moral values ​​when providing service to customers that may seem legitimate but in contradictory circumstances.

Hence, it is important to have an ethical code that helps make moral decisions. Social work ethic entails setting standards every worker must follow to ensure professional unity.

The Purpose Of Social Work Ethics

The following are the following purposes of social work ethics:

  • To provide the core values ​​on which the social work mission is based
  • Develop ethical principles that reflect the core values ​​of the profession and establish a set of specific standards to guide social work practice
  • Instruct social workers to identify relevant considerations when professional obligations conflict or ethical uncertainty arises
  • Provide ethical standards by which the public can hold the social work profession accountable
  • Help new social workers familiarize themselves with the mission, values, principles, and standards of the social work profession, and encourage new social workers to join social work
  • Clarify the criteria the profession can use to assess whether social workers engage in unethical conduct and provide the necessary discipline for every worker found to have committed an ethical error

Social Work Ethical Standards

The following ethical standards are relevant to the professional activities of all social workers. These standards include:

1. Ethical Responsibility to Customers

Every social worker’s primary responsibility is to promote their clients’ well-being above everything else. They equally assist clients in their efforts to clarify and define their goals.

Furthermore, social workers should only assist clients in the context of a professional relationship and communicate with clients in clear and understandable language to inform them of their services.

Customers should also have the opportunity to ask questions whenever.

In addition, social workers must identify conflicts of interest that affect their ability to exercise professional discretion that may affect their judgment. This is to ensure that the industry’s status quo is maintained even while serving customers.

2. Ethical Responsibility to Colleagues

Social work ethics require that social workers respect their colleagues and fairly represent colleagues’ qualifications, views, and obligations. They should avoid unwarranted negative criticism of colleagues in oral, written, or electronic communications with clients.

Not only that, social workers should respect confidential information shared by colleagues. They should only consult other professionals in their field when it is in the client’s best interests.

3. Ethical Responsibility in a Practical Environment

Social workers who provide supervision and counseling should have the necessary knowledge, experience, and skills to conduct appropriate counseling or supervision.

They should ensure that documents in electronic and paper records are accurate and reflect the services provided.

Social workers are generally subject to commitments made to employers and employers. Therefore, supervisory social workers should assess supervisees’ performance fairly and respectfully.

4. Ethical Responsibilities as Professionals

As professionals, social workers can only undertake responsibilities or employment based on existing competencies or the intent to acquire the necessary competencies. They should strive to remain proficient in professional practice and functions.

In addition, social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or engage in any form of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, color, gender, gender identity, age, marital status, political beliefs, religion, etc.

Furthermore, they should not allow their actions to interfere with their ability to carry out their professional responsibilities. They should equally not engage in dishonest, fraudulent, or deceptive conduct.

5. Ethical Responsibility to the Social Work Profession

Social workers should strive to maintain and promote high standards of practice. In other words, they should be committed to preserving and advancing the profession’s values, ethics, knowledge, and mission. 

Furthermore, social workers monitor and evaluate policy, program implementation, and service interventions. Hence, they should promote and facilitate assessment and research to advance knowledge.

In addition, social workers should educate themselves, their students, and their colleagues about responsible research practices.

6. Moral responsibility to wider society

Social workers should promote society’s overall well-being locally and globally, particularly the development of the people within their communities.

They should encourage living conditions conducive to meeting basic human needs and social and cultural values ​​and establish institutions compatible with achieving social justice.

They should equally promote informed public participation in developing social policies and institutions. To the greatest extent possible, social workers should provide appropriate professional services in public emergencies.

In addition, they should ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they need to meet their basic human needs and develop fully.

Social Work Ethical Principles

Work ethic is rooted at the heart of social work.  Core values ​​are ethical requirements that every social worker should strive to follow. These legal provisions help social workers identify professional obligations and legal conflicts of interest.

There are six principles of social work ethics:

1. Service

Service is the source of all other social work values. Hence, empowering individuals, families, and communities is the primary goal of all social workers. In other words, it aims to maintain exemplary public service by helping those in need solve and overcome their social problems. 

Furthermore, there is a need to elevate public service to a level that goes beyond self-interest or personal interest and use their skills and knowledge to improve the well-being of others. 

In addition, social workers often volunteer their time and expertise beyond their professional commitments.

2. Social justice

Social workers advocate on behalf of those who have no voice in society. They address poverty, unemployment, discrimination, harassment, and other forms of oppression.

They also educate the public on sensitive issues that correspond to social justice by encouraging the public to embrace opportunities for diversity and inclusion.

In addition, they ensure that their clients have the right resources, services, and information they need to thrive.

They address injustice by examining their biases and encouraging others to do the same. They work to create a more equitable support system for disadvantaged groups.

3. Dignity and value of clients

Social workers focus on individual differences in thinking and behavior and cultural and racial diversity. 

People deserve to be treated with dignity and respect to help them reach their full potential.  Social workers are mindful of their role to those they serve and to society as a whole.

They seek suitable solutions for all parties and help remove threats to individuals’ dignity and worth. This is done through a decentralized approach that respects differences and respects self-determination.

Furthermore, instead of imposing their values, social workers leverage the importance ​​of their clients and the communities they serve.

4. The importance of relationships

Building positive and meaningful relationships is an important core value of social work.  They recognize that fostering relationships can be a valuable tool for creating change, and they excel at attracting potential partners who can create, maintain, and enhance the well-being of families and communities.

They also help individuals identify relationships that are helpful to them and let go of relationships that are not. Society is eager to restore functionality between customers, their loved ones, and society.

Social workers must be patient because social work relies heavily on maintaining good relationships with people who may be disgusted or suspicious.

5. Integrity

To foster successful relationships and strengthen the lives of others, social workers need to be trustworthy.

By setting an excellent example for their clients, social workers can improve their competencies, support the organizations they belong to, and create the best value for the people they serve.

Social workers can also promote the organizations they belong to by acting honestly and demonstrating personal integrity while creating maximum value for the populations they serve.

6. Competence

Although many social workers have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work, a significant portion of their knowledge comes from real-world experience. Every social worker must practice within his or her competence.

They must expand their knowledge base and capabilities in order to make meaningful contributions to the profession and the people they serve. 

Social work is a lifelong learning commitment, and continuing education can take the form of any activity that expands the social worker’s knowledge and skills.


How do social workers maintain ethical behavior?

Social workers can maintain good ethical behavior by complying with their professional obligations under the code of ethics at work.

Should social workers apply ethics in any or every practice?

For social workers to gain the trust of clients and other individuals, they must consistently demonstrate trustworthiness.

What are the common ethical dilemmas of social work ethic?

The most common ethical social work issues are confidentiality, ethical dilemmas, and client independence.

What are some examples of ethical issues in social work?

The common ones are; acceptance of gifts, dual relationships, confidentiality involving minors, differences in personal values, compliance with the law, right to self-determination, etc.


Social work ethic is more than just following rules, regulations, and protocols.  In an industry where clients are often vulnerable, it is necessary for social workers to be passionate about empowering those who are oppressed or disadvantaged.

Secondly, the social work profession helps make a positive social impact in the community and supports individuals of all ages to thrive in their environment. 

Social work not only nurtures individuals and communities but also helps them repair and recover from adversity.

However, providing social services can sometimes be a daunting task, with ethical uncertainties and challenges.

The code of social work ethic helps social workers meet these challenges throughout their careers and provides a framework for the principles and standards they must uphold.

Finally, I will advise that you read the article on career development to gain knowledge of how to improve in your profession.