Royal Pharmaceutical Society

The importance of visibility, representation and role models

As part of Black History Month, Bayo Adegbite, Tase Oputu and Lola Dabiri from our English and Scottish Pharmacy Boards talked to RPS Head of Professional Belonging Amandeep Doll recently about why visibility, representation and role models are so important to them. Here, they explain why visibility matters so much.

Tase Oputu:

There’s a saying ‘If you can see it, you can be it’. What that’s saying is that visibility really matters. Things have really changed in the last two years. We now see people of colour as main lead characters on TV, in adverts, fashion, hair, everything. I think this has stemmed from Covid, George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, where it became very obvious to people that we weren’t represented and weren’t visible.

It’s also true to say ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.’ Without visibility and representation, you may think you can’t aim high in your career because there aren’t people at senior level who look like you. You might think that because you’re in a minority, you can’t be represented in these higher places. But we’re not just a minority, we’re an integral part of society and should be an integral part of everything. We have a wealth of patients who are incredibly diverse, so we need to have people who are represented and seen. We also need people to have the cultural intelligence, ability to understand that we all experience things in different ways, and to support us in our everyday work. Visibility and representation for me is part and parcel of everything.

Lola Dabiri:

Visibility and representation are very important because they’re the foundation for the future. If you don’t see someone that looks like yourself, subconsciously your mind is going to believe you can’t be there either. For us to have a future that is diverse and one which utilises different perspectives from different cultures and values, we need to put all of that together for a successful society. It’s not going to come easy, but we need to keep moving forward to ensure that at every point in time, visibility and representation is always at the forefront of what we’re doing. Otherwise, the future is not going to meet what we need as a society.

Bayo Adebite:

Visibility on its own, without representation or role models, is probably not enough. It’s important that regardless of what organisation we talk about, at the very top levels there should be visibility of every colour. It’s important that any barriers faced by certain groups of people are looked into and a lot of the time that can only happen when you have that visible representation. That ties in with role models because if you’re visible in a high position it’s not just enough being there; you have to represent and be able to bring people up as well. When someone is inspired by where you are, you need to look at the barriers they’re facing and want to bring them up so they can achieve what you have achieved as well. So it’s important we look at all three together. Things are improving but it can always be better.

If you’d like to hear more from Tase, Bayo and Lola, tune into the full discussion.

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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