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Social Work Going Corporate? This Social Work Professor Thinks So

Cossy Hough, LCSW

Cossy Hough, LCSW

Social work has evolved from originally working solely with people in poverty to government programming, counseling and health-related services, University of Texas at Austin clinical assistant professor Cossy Hough said.

However, in this Fort Worth Star-Telegram op-ed Hough predicted that social work will move even more into the corporate world.

This is because more companies are interested in using social workers to interact with the communities they serve and improve interactions among employees. For example, Motorola and 3M have already hired social workers for their employee assistance programs, she wrote.

“Social workers can also play a vital role in the establishment of the structure and policy of an organization,” Hough wrote. “Because social workers are trained in interconnectivity and the systems operating in people’s lives, they bring new perspectives on organization management.”

To learn about the positive role social workers play in society visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” consumer website.

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  1. Thank heavens social workers will have more choices than clinical work, child welfare, schools or geriatrics. Social Work skills are incredibly valuable and universal and it is about time these skills are recognized and incorporated into the everyday work place.

  2. Social Work student in need of assistance with college funds. Pass it on!

    Thank You

  3. “This is because more companies are interested in using social workers to interact with the communities that they serve and improve interactions among employees”. This is awesome! I bet I would be making more money and I’d still get to work in poor communities. Maybe I can even get a job with Exxon and “interact with communities” that they are fracking in or do international social work for them in communities in Nigeria or Iraq. Or maybe Walmart could hire me to “improve interactions among employees” that are using ineffective coping mechanisms like organizing a strike.

  4. Right on, Jeff! 😉

    Look, I’ve been a social worker for 41 years. I get it when I hear about folks being poorly paid and marginalized, and feeling frustrated, hopeless, under-appreciated, misunderstood and even burned-out. I “get it” when a friend declares, “I want something more.” And I do have dear friends who’ve left this work for something different. I also appreciate the value and motive of entrepreneurial thinking and practice: I frequently encourage social work students to build upon and use their imagination. The world is changing, and so must our work. But lets do this thoughtfully. Think….

    See, I also remember that this work we do is called “social work.” It is built upon a foundation that holds up the pursuit of SOCIAL JUSTICE: meeting the needs of and empowering vulnerable and oppressed populations, confronting injustices such as poverty, hate, and ignorance: recognizing & respecting human diversity & difference, and the importance of human relationships. (And lets be clear, these are not ideals often held aloft by the corporate & commercial sector…)

    I also recall that this is the work I was called too, even as I may on occassion dream of something different. But lets not get confused and distacted by the hint that our professional legitimacy might be enhanced (or exploited) by using our skills as marketing tools. Any more than the image imbraced by many that identifies social work as “third party reimbursable” practice in neat suburban office parks.(Sez the guy who also had a clinical practice license for 35+ years. But, but…)

    To be clear, I do and can imagine professional opportunities for social work practice in commercial industries. (I myself have provided and been well reimbursed for critical incident /crisis intervention work in the corporate sector for over 25 years as a supplement to my primary work. These skills and experiences are also very usefulll in my volunteer work with the American Red Cross -Disaster Mental Health & “fatality team” services.)

    And social works have in the past FOUGHT to get inside of the corportate sector. And now here we are. We got what we asked for: so what are you gonna do with it? Now ask yourself, how are YOU going to represent the profession? (And yourself?) I urge caution. And imagination. ( Not avoidance…)

    Who will define your work? And when that work comes to be done, will it still be social work? Or is it work simply being done by someone with a degree in social work? I’m just asking. Now go on, imagine.

  5. I conducting a tesis about social etre

  6. “Social work has evolved from originally working solely with people in poverty to government programming, counseling and health-related services”

    Unfortunately, this is just the trend of our society in individualizing what are really societal problems, labeling them “mental illness” and demarcating the people receiving services. It’s so obviously class/race based that the white, wealthy corporate world is being served by social workers in a different way than poor, marginalized and vulnerable communities. Just own it already, join the corporate world and stop calling yourself a social worker.

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