Royal Pharmaceutical Society

We need diverse leadership to deliver inclusive pharmacy practice

By Ravi Sharma, RPS Director for England

In a world where change happens so rapidly, how important is diverse leadership? My personal stance is that it is very important. Where there is no role model or a leader from a similar background, the motivation to work to the best of your ability can only go two ways; motivation to break the cycle, or demotivation because it seems impossible to reach the top level in a working environment.

Great leadership is essential to high performance and achieving high performance is about creating inclusion. By inclusion I mean we positively strive to meet the needs of diverse groups; take action to create conditions where all staff feel respected and able to reach their full potential and create a sense of belonging. We know this will ultimately result in patients receiving the best quality of care irrespective of disability, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, age, gender reassignment, marriage, civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.

I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that there’s a real lack of diverse leadership in pharmacy. It contributes to continued barriers for pharmacy teams and affects our ability to truly deliver inclusive pharmacy practice.

Data from the General Pharmaceutical Council tells us that 44% of pharmacists and 13% of pharmacy technicians are from ethnic minorities but this isn’t reflected in the leadership of the profession. More diverse representation in decision making - at all levels - is essential. Developing a culture of inclusion and belonging can only strengthen pharmacy teams and improve the healthcare we provide to diverse communities.

That’s why I’m really proud we’ve published the Joint National Plan for Inclusive Pharmacy Practice in England with our partners NHS England and Improvement and the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK.

It acknowledges that systematic action is needed to tackle existing inequalities in terms of leadership and representation and asks pharmacy professionals at all levels and in all care settings to:

  • Stand against racial discrimination in the workplace
  • Embrace authentic allyship
  • Understand the benefits that ethnically diverse teams can deliver more culturally competent healthcare
  • Proactively ensure the voices of colleagues of ethnic minority colleagues are heard, valued, and included as equal in decision-making.

At RPS we’ve made great strides over the past year as we implement our Inclusion and Diversity Strategy, our plan created with the profession to challenge barriers that exist, create a culture of belonging and champion inclusive and authentic leadership.

For example, we’ve reviewed our recruitment processes and are collecting inclusion and diversity data for all our elected and appointed positions across boards and committees. This will be published and reviewed against the makeup of our membership and the profession. We’re also collecting members equality, inclusion and diversity data – so if you haven’t provided it yet, please do.

Inclusion to me is about building better relationships, improving experiences and opening opportunities to everyone. It’s about making sure we recognise talented individuals across the profession by giving them a chance to excel and in turn help the profession develop.

Irrespective of where we have been in the past, we can contribute towards creating these future possibilities. We must now quicken the pace of change by developing inclusive, creative expertise in our leadership which will meet future challenges and improve patient care.

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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