by Mefino Ogedegbe, UKBPA board member
When people ask me what future I want to see for black pharmacists, it’s hard to get away from the many problems around inclusion and diversity that we currently face across our profession. I was delighted to chair a discussion on the key issues that black pharmacists face today, as part of the final in a series of Facebook Live events hosted by the RPS to coincide with Black History Month. I was joined by RPS Inclusion & Diversity Co-ordinator Amandeep Doll, UKBPA board member Martin Eguridu, Marianna Aturia a member of Black Pharmacists Collective (BPC) and Wendy Dadeboe Treasurer for British Pharmaceutical Students' Association. Thank you all for your contributions to our conversation.
How does it start
It’s vital we instil the values of being inclusive and diverse from the very start of a career in pharmacy. From a student’s perspective, the behaviours they’re taught at an early stage will influence their future decisions. Some individuals will be unaware of opportunities that are available for them. We should be doing more to open the eyes of our students and talk more about different races and cultures, to ensure these values are maintained throughout pharmacy life. This comes from teaching students that other skills outside of academia are as crucial for our career progression, particularly if we want to break down any barriers for black pharmacists. Emphasising the need for students to develop ‘soft skills’ and building their confidence by meeting and building relationships with people through networking will open doors for opportunities in the future.
At the top
We’ve heard from previous discussions about the barriers that black pharmacists face in not being able to progress. One of the main examples that we’ve constantly reminded about is there still being a lack of black representation in senior roles across the profession. And it’s true, a lot of it does come from the top and true change can only come from those in the leadership positions. How our leaders act filters down and reflects onto staff. If we see our managers acting negatively, it is hard for us to adjust. Creating a positive environment and culture for people to speak out against any form of discrimination and which encourages greater inclusion and diversity is only going to positively reflect on the values we take forward in our careers.
What more can we do?
As Black History Month comes to an end, the inclusion and diversity agenda for black pharmacists will not be going away. We want to see more progress in making more opportunities available for black pharmacists and building environments within workplaces where we feel comfortable. This has to come from real action, rather than just talking about how important it is at meetings or on social media. But black pharmacists don’t purely want to be in positions for the sole purpose of making an organisation look diverse or be included in panel discussions just to fill a quota; we want to be valued for our own ideas and on the basis that we deserve to be here. We need to remove any unconscious bias that is preventing black pharmacists from progressing and continue to self-educate ourselves about the importance of being inclusive and diverse.
Listen again to our Facebook Live discussion for Black History Month.
We want to encourage voices that express the diversity of lived experiences in the profession as part of our inclusion and diversity work. If you’d like to share your story, contact [email protected] or get involved through our ABCD group.