Social Work Principles + Business = Success

Written by: Ajaylah Humphrey, MSW/MBA ’24

Social work principles and practices can play a valuable and often overlooked role in the business world. Many people hear the term “social worker” and think they only care about the people and money doesn’t matter, while those in the business sectors are often looked at as people who only care about the money and forget the greater good. The truth is both perspectives are important on all levels—micro, mezzo and macro. Incorporating social work principles into business operations can lead to several benefits for organizations, employees and the community.  

The use of social work principles within organizations can include monitoring the well-being and mental health of employees and clients and ensuring human rights and ethical labor practices are employed. In addition, diversity and inclusion practices being standard in the workplace and proper use of conflict resolution can benefit both employees and employers. 

Some of these issues being addressed more regularly within UB’s MBA curriculum which is an important reason as to why I chose this program. These practices can also help create a supportive and compassionate environment, a more inclusive work culture that values and respects the differences among others.  

Social workers can provide counseling, support and resources to employees dealing with personal or work-related challenges, manage workplace conflicts and disputes, and provide training on topics such as cultural competence, empathy, active listening and effective communication. Their goal is to foster a more harmonious and productive work environment, increased innovation, improved employee relations and valuable customer interactions. 

Aside from workplace culture, exhibiting social work principles in business practices is important because of the positive impact this can have in our society. Social workers can help businesses engage with and support local communities. This can enhance a company’s reputation, build positive relationships and create social impact.  

By contributing to the development and implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives we can ensure that businesses are promoting responsible business practices, including philanthropy, environmental sustainability and ethical supply chain management. All of these practices can help businesses establish and maintain positive relationships with local communities, which is essential for organizations looking to be good corporate citizens and maintain a positive public image. This means we can help build trust and collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, and local communities. 

Incorporating social work practices into business operations is not just a moral imperative—it also makes good business sense. It can lead to a healthier, more engaged workforce, increased employee retention, enhanced reputation and a positive impact on the surrounding community. Including social work principles fosters a more inclusive, supportive and ethical corporate culture, which ultimately contributes to the long-term success of an organization. 

Ajaylah Humphrey, MSW/MBA '24

Bio: Ajaylah grew up in Buffalo with her siblings, mother, cousins, and grandparents. She is very family-oriented, which includes many of her friends, and her 5-year-old pitbull-mastiff pup, Paxton. 

Earning her undergraduate degree, a BA in Psychology, from UB in 2018, she went to work in the human services field servicing youth in local foster care agencies in the Buffalo area. Ajaylah returned to UB in 2021 to begin her MSW program where she found herself further intrigued and inspired. From there she became a dual degree MSW/MBA student learning what it takes to be a leader in any field she enters. 

Balancing and maintaining a successful school-to-work-to-social life is very important to Ajaylah so this requires taking time for self-care. Ajaylah de-stresses by going to the gym and also playing for a local women’s rugby team. Always on the go, any chance she can get to travel she will, covering over 15 countries thus far. Her carry-on always has headphones, a good coloring or sketchbook, playing cards, and a pack of gum.

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