Representation Matters: How to Build Member Relationships Through Shared Identity – Medical Alley Association

Representation Matters: How to Build Member Relationships Through Shared Identity

Article via Reema Health

As a social worker, recognizing the identities of the members that you serve is more important than you think.

It’s more than it being for the sake of respecting the members you serve; it is also because the members you serve recognize your identity as well. Examples of social identities include race, gender, and sexual orientation. Although social work is to do good work for the people that we serve, historically, social work in underrepresented communities have been seen as detrimental. This is due to the disconnect between social workers, represented by 85% of white workers, and predominantly-underrepresented communities, who typically represent the member population group. The disconnect has led to unsuitable services being referred, high dropout rates of referred interventions, and most importantly, a lack of trust.

Representation matters.

As a black woman, who happens to be a social worker that serves a predominantly-black member population, I can’t count the amount of times that relief has crossed the faces of my members during our initial engagement. The shared identity of being black and being born and raised in the same neighborhood that I serve serves as the start of a great relationship. Members have expressed that they feel comfort in sharing their highest of high and lowest of lows because they are working with a worker that looks like them.

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