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Is community pharmacy going to wait until 2070 to close the gender pay gap?

Research published last week that showed the gender pay gap is still as wide as ever in community pharmacy should be a spur to action rather than a drag on progress

Two-thirds of pharmacy practitioners are women, yet research by the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) this year found that female pharmacists are on average paid less than their male counterparts. More worryingly, if you are a non-white professional employed as a locum, you are likely to be taking home less than white locums.

So, what is this telling us about our profession? How can we justify that to be employed at a senior position and therefore to get paid more, you need to be male, white or both?

Read more: Gender pay gap for full-time pharmacists hits 9%, government data shows

In addition, are the PDA's findings accurate? Should we continue assuming all non-white people have the same experience regarding pay and fair access to opportunities that lead to leadership positions?

Having worked in both leadership and locum positions in different pharmacy sectors, I believe the recruitment and selection process is highly consciously biased.

Read more: Research shows male pharmacists still earning more than female colleagues

Multiple times, I have found myself guessing correctly who would be appointed to a role. The frustration of seeing interview panels appointing staff who look like them instead of the best qualified and experienced candidate is a feeling I suspect is shared by many.

A workforce and leadership that is diverse and inclusive benefits businesses. It delivers the quality of service we aspire to and health equality for all.

Our profession must prioritise allowing staff to thrive while supporting their wellbeing and development.

Once we do it, we will see more women leaders and a more ethnically diverse leadership.

Supporting flexible working patterns allow staff to have a better work-life balance. I clearly remember my request for flexibility in my working pattern being denied when I needed it due to parenting responsibilities.

I needed my employer to support me to manage my responsibilities better.

Instead, what could have been an enjoyable time became a struggle. It was also frustrating, as other staff working with me were granted the flexibility I needed.

I could have easily been forced to step down.

There are other unspoken factors contributing to the gender pay gap in pharmacy. I have personally experienced some of them.

Do you believe we are capable of blacklisting, victimisation of those that speak up, and stereotyping?

Read more: How can community pharmacy close its gender pay gap?

I do! Because people don't speak about it, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I believe some locums are more affected by the actions mentioned above.

Any locum who dares to criticise an employer knows they will find it challenging to be employed back.

And if you speak up and condemn wrongdoing, as I did, you risk being excluded, damaging your reputation and being labelled a troublemaker.

These are our leaders taking these actions.

I generalise because even if a minority of leaders are using these tactics, the majority's silence allows the practice to be embedded in recruitment processes that are inequitable and contribute to the gender pay gap.

According to the Equality Trust, the gender pay gap won't close for another 48 years.

This inequality damages the people we are meant to serve, as well as those of us working in the profession.

My life experience informs my beliefs. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, and this is even more the case if they have not lived what I have experienced.

However, the data doesn't lie. The available information tells us that women are paid less than men.

And people who look like me are always at the bottom of the equality scale.

Read more: RPS publishes ethnicity pay gap for the first time

The question is, what are we going to do about it?

Who will be today's pharmacy upstanding champions to have a better tomorrow?

The answer is with us and the necessary actions are for us to implement, adopt, monitor and regulate.

Fair, transparent and consistent recruitment will result in more diverse leadership, a happier workforce and a substantial reduction in the gender pay gap.

Do you want to hear more about the UK Black Pharmacist Association (UKBPA)? Listen here.

Elsy Campos is founder of the UKBPA

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Pharmacist Manager
Barnsley
£30 per hour

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