A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

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In November 2020, the ASWB Board of Directors adopted an anti-racism statement that articulates the association’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.


The Association of Social Work Boards commits to promoting and upholding equity and justice. In doing so, the association will hold itself accountable in denouncing racism, intolerance, exclusion, and other forms of discrimination and bias in carrying out its mission.
— Anti-racism statement


Creating the statement is just one of a series of actions the Board took last year in response to the renewed call for racial justice and equity in the country—and the world—after the death of George Floyd. “It’s not enough to make a statement,” said ASWB President Harold Dean of Arkansas. “We must show by our actions that ASWB embraces the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

One of the first steps the Board took in 2020 was to approve a DEI initiative at ASWB. The initiative focuses on three areas: internal operations, external efforts, and member engagement and support. Within these separate focus areas, ASWB staff have informed the Board of planned activities and sought the Board’s input and support.

Internal operations

The Board gave strong support to a staff DEI Team. The team’s charge is to provide support, meaningful actions, learning opportunities, and activities to help staff build a personal understanding of diversity and create an inclusive work environment.

The Board approved recognizing Juneteenth as a staff service day beginning in 2021. ASWB’s personnel policies are being updated to allow staff time off to perform services related to social justice and DEI.

External efforts

To raise awareness of ASWB’s longtime commitment to DEI throughout the exam program, ASWB developed a webpage that explains how the exams measure competence fairly, created a video series featuring Exam Committee members talking about the exam development process, published articles in Social Work Today and The New Social Worker, and initiated a DEI campaign on social media.

ASWB took part in the Social Work Leadership Roundtable Town Hall on Racial Equity in August. ASWB CEO Dwight Hymans was a panelist in the discussion about what social work organizations are doing to advance anti-racism.

ASWB collaborates with NASW and CSWE to publish Social Work Responds, a publication that addresses the range of issues affecting the social work profession and the people and communities the profession serves. Launched as the COVID-19 pandemic began, the publication expanded its focus to include racial justice and DEI as 2020 unfolded.

A number of ASWB staff participated in the 2021 CLEAR symposium “Recognizing bias and diversity in the regulatory arena” to increase their awareness and understanding of unconscious bias and DEI. Both staff and Board members participated in the 2021 FARB Forum, which included a day devoted to DEI. Jennifer Henkel, senior director of member engagement and regulatory services, was a member of the Forum’s design team.

Member engagement and support

The ASWB Board of Directors provides input and approves the committee appointments made by the Board president each year. Committee composition reflects geographic, racial, and ethnic diversity and includes administrators and member board public members and social work members. Because the Exam Committee is part of the exam development process, volunteers serving on this committee are chosen to reflect diversity in practice setting, ethnicity, race, and geography and do not have to be serving on their jurisdictional board.

ASWB’s 2021 Education Meeting, “Responsive Regulation for Public Protection,” will dedicate a day to DEI and regulation going forward.

How DEI informs the work of regulators will be a focus in 2021 and the future. As always, ASWB staff are available to consult with members about the association’s services, the exams, and regulation.


“Diversity, equity, and inclusion have always been a commitment of ASWB and a set of values that the organization has embraced from the beginning,” said CEO Dwight Hymans. In 2021, ASWB committee charges were updated to affirm this commitment by including direct reference to these values. ASWB will continue to embrace these values through ongoing staff training, participation in activities that advance racial justice efforts, and ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion continue to be infused in ASWB services.