Social Justice and Career Development
Recently, Career Professionals of Canada published their Annual Report. It’s well worth reading. A page that really caught my attention was CPC’s three-point “Call to Action” for 2021; it is ambitious and compelling. The calls to action are described as having the goals of intentionally and mindfully strengthening the CPC brand and making an impact within the career development profession, nationally and globally. The first of the three actions is about social justice. It reads: Social Justice – Cement our culture of diversity and inclusion. I’ve heard and read the phrase “social justice” often, but realized that I didn’t really have a deep understanding of what it meant.
What is Social Justice?
Social justice aims to create a fair and equal society in which each individual matters, their rights are recognized and protected, and decisions are made in ways that are fair and honest. Some definitions state that social justice includes equal access to wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
The concept of creating a fair society arose in the early 19th century during the Industrial Revolution and subsequent civil revolutions throughout Europe. These movements aimed to create more egalitarian societies and remedy the exploitation of human labor by capitalists. Because of the dramatic differences between the wealthy and the poor during this time, early activists focused primarily on capital, property, and the distribution of wealth.
By the mid-20th century, social justice expanded beyond a focus on economics to include other areas of life such as the environment, race, gender, and other causes and manifestations of inequality.
In North America, the pursuit of social justice can be traced back to times where activists fought for equality and civil rights. Some high-profile proponents include the Suffragettes, Martin Luther King Jr., Marilyn Frye (Oppression Theory), Frank Parsons, and others.
Canada also has a long history of pursuing social justice. In our country, poverty and urban income inequality are two key issues. Career development professionals have the training, tools, resources, information, and connections to directly address these challenges by guiding people to poverty-ending employment.
This is not an easy or simple task. Poverty and income inequality stem from a host of interrelated circumstances and there are multiple obstacles to overcome. This article will focus on one tactic for addressing poverty, inequality, and injustice: the provision of career information, guidance, and support to people who seek work.
There are four key principles of social justice — human rights, access, participation, and equity.
- Human rights must be respected and protected.
- Access to human rights and opportunities ensures that everyone gets a fair chance at having a good life.
- We must participate in defending social justice and supporting vulnerable populations to make a difference.
- Equity considers the effect of discrimination to achieve an equal outcome.
The Benefits of Social Justice
Social injustice leaves many people without food, shelter, education, fair treatment, or opportunities for economic growth.
A just society respects human rights to life, freedom, and dignity. Social justice ensures the right to opportunities, work, healthcare, and education. This promotes economic equality and freedom from discrimination, ageism, and racism for people of all walks of life.
Social Justice and Career Development
Social justice encourages diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This means zero tolerance of harassment and discrimination. Everyone’s voice must be heard. Social justice ensures that the disadvantaged gain career prospects, including equal pay and fair working conditions.
As career practitioners, we can look at issues from an individual and organizational level. A social justice-based view helps us remain ethical in coaching clients. However, we first need to look at our own biases.
As career professionals, we can use these eight strategies:
- Work with colleagues and clients to address social injustice with clear action plans.
- Encourage clients with barriers to make good career choices and improve their skills.
- Show understanding and compassion to our clients.
- Support clients who face bias in their job search.
- Offer resources that aid clients’ career development.
- Help clients identify their rights and address issues of inequality related to race, gender, class, age, or sexual orientation.
- Build our skills in counselling, communication, engagement, and career development.
- Understand how career assessments relate to social justice.
We can all do our part to build a stronger and inclusive society. Check out these five free online courses about social equality and non-discrimination.
Career Professionals of Canada is dedicated to helping career professionals further their goals while promoting and advocating for social justice. Learn more about CPC’s Work-Life Coaching program. It provides rich information that career practitioners can use to support their clients as they work toward the life and career they want.
Lori Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.