University of Applied Sciences
Institute of Healthcare and Welfare Studies
8913 HB Leeuwarden
About diversity, equality and the future of Social Work
Diversity implies variety. Diversity refers to the differences between people. Visible aspects – such
as age, skin colour, gender, disability – and less or non-visible aspects such as cultural and social
background, skills and competencies, and style of working. If you can handle diversity, you will be
able to handle different kinds of people.
So diversity is not primarily about ethnic differences. Whether ethnic differences should be
considered differently from differences in social background, remains to be seen. At least in theory,
in studying the concept of ‘diversity’. Aren’t we focussing too much on the ethical aspect if we
approach ‘diversity’ from an ethical point of view only?
The concept of ‘equality’ can be seen as opposite from the concept of ‘diversity’. Dutch society can
be characterized as a culture of equality, preventing a fundamental discussion about the real
questions and issues, hence impeding reasonable, practical and realistic solutions.
Due to increasing diversity it is argued this culture of equality will eventually turn out to be
unfavourable. A culture of diversity is reasoned to be an inevitable alternative. A first exploration of
the characteristics of such a culture and its significance for the work of the Social Worker is being
done at present.
Further research into this topic is recommended. Research, carried out by scientists in the field of
Social Work Research & Education, with the intention of equipping Social Work for this expected
cultural shift. Participants of the workshop are challenged to develop new ideas about this.