Professionals: Be a Leader in Social Justice

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leadership photo ducklings following the leader

Photo by pedrosimoes7 creative commons

I’m a business owner. I’m a professional social worker bound by a code of ethics and a set of practice standards. I have been told, by people who know better, that I can’t speak out politically. That I can’t cuss in public. That I can’t write about my personal life or talk about it, because “that would be unprofessional”.  That I can’t be a leader in the social justice movement “because it’s controversial”. 

Don’t believe it. Your profession, your professionalism, creates an obligation to speak out against injustice, and for the rights of people who look up to you and depend on you.  
You didn’t hang your passion for helping others on a hook when you finished that advanced degree, or accepted that advanced position, or shouldn’t have. You are a leader now.  
Leaders lead. 
Professionals show professionalism.
You have a podium now. It might not be a huge one, but it’s bigger than the average joe’s. So what can you do with that podium? 
– You can create company policies that explicitly promote diversity and elevate the voices of people who are normally not heard. 
– You can use your social media presence, both personally and professionally, to praise policies you think will bring good into the world and condemn policies that will harm. 
– You can use your position in the community to speak out in public forums, arrange talks based on your expertise and even run for office. 
-You can donate to good causes, with or without a tax break.
– You can cuss, in the service of the good, if it is part of who you are. 
Becoming a professional or a leader does not demand that you give up your authenticity. In fact, it demands the opposite. Be authentic, and you become a true leader. 
Yes, there will be consequences for your public speech. Yes, you will garner criticism. That is the nature of taking a public stand. Some of those consequences will be negative. Some people will choose not to deal with you because you have publicly spoken up against Nazis, or for LGBTQ folk, or for Black Lives Matter, or for feminism. Some people will even say hateful things to you and about you. 
And some will seek you out. Some, who have been further marginalized again and again in their lives by professionals and leaders will think “There’s someone who seems to get it. There’s someone I think I could work for. There’s someone I can advertise to people like me.”
Speaking out is a choice with consequences. So is choosing not to say anything when big moral issues are at play on national and international stages. 
Which choice will you make? 
I know mine. I’m a leader. I’ll keep writing until someone listens or my fingers fall off.
This posted originally at my Patreon on August 16th, 2017. If you value my labor, sign up to be my Patron or tip me at PayPal. If you like what I’m doing and think it should be more widely seen, please share it.
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