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‘Pharmacy needs an independent body to monitor and report racism’

“We need to be creative if we are going to uproot racial discrimination in pharmacy”

Pharmacy needs an independent body to monitor and report on workforce racial equality standards, says Elsy Gomez Campos

There is no doubt that racial discrimination occurs in pharmacy. How widespread it is and how it affects individuals’ mental health, wellbeing and career progression is not fully known – we must find out.

With the global surge of the Black Lives Matter movement, leaders across the world have pledged to end racial inequality and even the playing field for black citizens.

Several pharmacy organisationshave woken up to the reality of racism in pharmacies, and as a consequence have been quick to join the global pledge. Hope for a more inclusive, fairer and equal profession is on the horizon.

But how certain are we that the promises and changes will come fast enough? While good intentions are a noble starting point, they will hardly change years of embedded systemic and institutional racism.

Change can be scary, and it takes time. We need to be creative if we are going to uproot racial discrimination from pharmacy.

If we are to be successful in dismantling the systems that allow racial inequality in our profession, then we will pull down systems that discriminate against other protected characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion among others as if they were houses of cards.

That is why the sector needs to invest time and financial resources into a pharmacy organisation tasked with driving forward equality and inclusion. An organisation that will at a minimum:

  1. Monitor workforce race relations
  2. Research the impact that racial discrimination has on registrants and services
  3. Report to regulators, organisations and individuals that refuse to comply with equality laws

Racial discrimination manifests in many forms and can be subtle. It is massively under-reported and constantly denied. Some people in positions of power may use it as a tool to bully, intimidate and harass others.

Now is the time to create and finance an independent and unique pharmacy body to monitor and implement pharmacy workforce standards of racial equality. We have the expertise and the willingness to call out race discrimination and remove it from our profession.

So, why not come together and make change happen? Let’s not waste any more time – let’s walk the walk together to a more inclusive pharmacy profession. The benefits can be very rewarding if we can envision what they would look like. Just imagine a pharmacy profession where members:

  • Are recognised and rewarded for their contribution
  • Can safely report and hold to account colleagues or managers that discriminate against them
  • Don’t have to risk losing their jobs and careers if they speak up and speak out
  • Know their personal experiences of discrimination will be taken seriously and acted upon
  • Their skin colour is not directly connected to low wages or poor outcomes in registration exams
  • Are equally protected when facing a deadly global pandemic like COVID-19
  • Can recognise themselves in the managers and leaders because they look like them
  • Can celebrate where they are from with pride rather trying to hide it for the sake of fitting in

The points outlined above are not utopian. It could be the reality of our profession if we work together with intention and desire to make changes.

But achieving change will take time, courage, determination, compassion, resilience and money. Ultimately what the future of our profession looks like is up to us, no one else.

Elsy Gomez Campos is founder and president of the UK Black Pharmacists Association

7 Comments

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Are recognised and rewarded for their contribution

Can safely report and hold to account colleagues or managers that discriminate against them

Don’t have to risk losing their jobs and careers if they speak up and speak out

Know their personal experiences of discrimination will be taken seriously and acted upon

Their skin colour is not directly connected to low wages or poor outcomes in registration exams

Are equally protected when facing a deadly global pandemic like COVID-19

Can recognise themselves in the managers and leaders because they look like them

Can celebrate where they are from with pride rather trying to hide it for the sake of fitting in

Point 1 - would be nice if ANY of us were recognised for what we actually do.

Point 2 - Agreed, so long as the grievances raised are genuine and not spurious. This also goes for any grievances by anyone of any colour.

Point 3 - Goes for us all - try being a locum and speaking out about a companies dodgy practices - you will NEVER work for that company again.

Point 4 - Again, goes for any form of discrimination (ageism, sexism etc) not just colour.

Point 5 - Proof needed rather than just allegations

Point 6 - They are. Protections for one vulnerable group will protect all.

Point 7 - Dodgy one, this one. Strikes me as a racist comment. If I was to say I didn't like a manager because they weren't the same colour as me (which is what this statement implies but does not, very cleverly, overtly say), I'm a racist. Exactly the same rules apply here.

Point 8 - Most 'minority' people (I REFUSE to use the foolish and outdated term BAME any longer) are born British. Strangely enough, British people abroad who don't try to fit in are roundly criticised. When in Rome, and all that....

Lets see the massive backlash against me now. I'm ready to justify every single one of my points. Bring it on.

Ahmed El-Dabbagh, Community pharmacist

How about ageism. It is very spread in pharmacie.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

True - that's one of the reasons I'm out at the end of this year.

Rona Lee, Community pharmacist

Well having been on the register for 25 years I have encountered several cases of racism.Elsy is just another tick box exercise or we actually going to address and stamp out this abhorrent issue?

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

 

And who is going to pay for this?

Even more woke rubbish. 

Are you seriously going to fall for this wretched nonsense??

 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

While I don't necessarily agree with your style, there are things in this article that I'm not very comfortable with. There is no proof beyond anecdotal that racism is so rife in pharmacy, I've certainly never seen it to the extent that is being claimed, and the line about managers who 'look like them' is, in and of itself, a racist concept - if they look like 'them' they don't look like 'me' and I'm sure if I requested a white area manager I'd be called out (quite correctly) as a racist. This is the same. The skin colour of the manager should be irrelevant. I don't care if a so-called superior to me is a different colour to me. It's how they act towards me that counts.

Andrew Jukes, Locum pharmacist

Good work Elsy!.... Great effort at highlighting this very important topic!

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