Leading the charge in addressing racism and bias: implications for social work training and practice

Sarah Ross Bussey, Monica X. Thompson, Edward Poliandro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


As a profession with social justice as an ethical mandate, social work is well positioned to lead systems towards anti-racist practice and equity through consciousness-raising efforts. At a time of heightened overt bigotry, polarization, and ‘othering,’ training social workers on how to identify, name, and disrupt oppressive practices is that much more critical. This paper outlines the development and components of customized anti-racist/anti-bias trainings for the Social Work Department of a large, urban healthcare system in the US. The trainings were developed in partnership with the system’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and built upon unconscious bias core curriculum. The trainings intentionally drew connections between systemic oppressive structures, US history, the creation and maintenance of dominant narratives, and micro-level bias, all of which culminate in inequitable outcomes and disparate experiences for service users and communities. This paper suggests possible application and implications of such trainings to diverse settings including classrooms and organizations. Social workers benefit from enhancing their ability to analyze their role in perpetuating racism and bias in organizations and with the people served.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-925
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022


  • Anti-racism
  • anti-oppression
  • implicit and explicit bias
  • interdisciplinary collaboration
  • training


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