Social Skirmishes: the trouble with IT people

● A common social work problem is trying to explain our values without hearing the cry of “political correctness gone mad”.

Recently, I’ve been involved in developing the young people’s section on our website. The idea was to make it upbeat and funky with lots of cartoon images.

Unfortunately, although the web developer was good at his job, his social skills and powers of observation left a lot to be desired. He believed he was a cyberdude I thought he was an IT dweeb.

He showed me an early draft of the characters on the website. Very white, very laddish. I asked him to add more images reflecting a mix of cultures, genders and races – politely, of course – to accurately represent the diversity of the children we work with.

He added a couple of new faces. Not enough and somewhat stereotyped – a woman in a sari and a boy with an afro (I did say a funky feel but not quite 1970s Detroit). I asked again.

This time he tinted the white European faces with bright yellow and garish orange. They just looked like they had spent too long on the sun bed.

So we had another chat when I tried to explain diversity to him. At this point I heard “political correctness gone mad” .

So I went on Facebook to see his social circle. Guess what? They were a lovely mix of people some social workers would die for a circle of friends like that. The joke’s on me but I wish people could see the connection between their everyday lives and friendships and the vision of society we as a profession are trying to portray.

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