Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Overcoming challenges to achieve a goal of leadership

by Ramandeep Kaur Sandhu, Chair of the RPS Advanced Pharmacist Assessment Panel, Teaching Fellow at Aston University

When I get asked about the barriers that female pharmacists face when seeking leadership positions, it’s hard not to think of the many problems around inclusion that we face within our profession. As a Sikh woman, I’ve experienced barriers of prejudice, bias and restrictions because of my background. My career journey has been challenging since I started practicing, being the first member of my family to go to university. This presented challenges in itself and many women face tough decisions to balance the demands of family life, cultural norm, and expectations with their professional work.

It can be daunting for women to break the status quo that is the male-dominated arena within leadership positions. I’ve seen many of my colleagues shy away from leadership positions in fear of confronting someone or just believing that they can’t do it. As a profession, we need to work collectively with each other in order to create a culture of belonging by ensuring that we’re inclusive and diverse.

And when we work as leaders, women have played a vital role in leading the delivery of the highest quality of patient care and supporting our communities. Notably during the pandemic, many female pharmacists have led on the delivery of services. On a personal level, I am particularly proud of the work my colleagues and I have done to contribute towards the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines across a third of Birmingham and Solihull’s population. Through my voluntary work at my local place of worship and supporting engagement activities for the elderly, I’ve been able to get across the key messages of making sure those at risk from the virus get the vaccine as soon as possible. By using my point of leadership, I know I’ve positively enhanced the role of pharmacy within my local community.  

Pharmacy is such a diverse profession. Each person within our workforce comes from a different background and is at a different stage in their career. The way I see it, I know my gender or ethnicity do not in any way impact my ability to lead or perform. I work tirelessly to not let these labels define or stop me from achieving my goals. Working in academia, it makes me incredibly proud to share my core values and pass these onto my students at Aston University, encouraging them to follow their dreams and be the best they can be. It is vital that the next generation of pharmacists understand the importance of having diversity and inclusion across all leadership positions within the pharmacy workforce.

Having recently been appointed as the Chair of the Advanced Pharmacist Assessment Panel for the RPS, I’m looking forward to working with colleagues from a variety of different backgrounds and creating a platform for all to help advance our profession. We want to see more progress in making more opportunities available for female pharmacists and build environments within our workplaces comfortable for all staff, whatever their gender, ethnicity, age or background. 

I will always say to anyone from any culture, gender or community; if you want to go for something, if you want to be a leader, if you want to be innovative, see your motivation through and overcome the challenges that are presented to you. It will make you stronger and equip you with the skills that only the experience can teach you.

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




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