Black Lives Matter – what can we do?

Many of you will have seen a video of the murder of George Floyd in the US. Such incidents aren’t something new, but nowadays they are being filmed and shared on social media. Mr Floyd’s murder is widely seen as a consequence of a racist society that devalues black lives.  We say Black Lives matter and want action to be taken.

Fri 5th June 2020 The PDA

Racism is not just about murder and other forms of physical violence, it manifests in all sorts of ways throughout our society.  Racism is not something that only happens in the US either, it exists here in the UK, every day.  This issue is not somebody else’s problem to solve, as a society we each own it and each have a responsibility to eradicate it. 

The PDA is committed to playing our part in tackling all forms of prejudice and discrimination, and we will do so by helping our members on an incident by incident basis, by challenging structural issues as well as adding our voice to wider campaigns. We are the trade union for pharmacists, so our core activity is within the workplaces and structures of our profession. Through involvement with our activity, our 31,000 members can make a real difference.

For pharmacists, racism can be experienced via the actions of employers, managers, patients or colleagues or by the established structures within society. The phrase “unconscious bias” has come into use in recent times but whatever the thinking, or lack of it, behind an act of discrimination, the act and consequences will be the same.   From explicit racist comments to lower pay or less opportunity for progression, we know that the 43% of pharmacists that come from a BAME background may be disadvantaged by racism during their career and we take action.

We advise and support our members that are subject to discrimination at work, helping them resolve the issue themselves if possible, or representing them in grievances and similar actions, some of which progress into legal processes.

Racism features in some of the violent incidents we have had reported to us and our campaign to end violence in pharmacies calls for a zero-tolerance policy for violence towards staff working in a pharmacy, including verbal, sectarian or racist abuse directed towards pharmacists and pharmacy staff.

The management mantra that “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is very applicable here.  We call on employers to confidentially capture diversity information, including ethnicity, for employees in order to monitor the equality of the outcomes among their workforce.  Unless employers have that information they cannot know if BAME employees are treated consistently with non-BAME colleagues on pay, promotion, or opportunity. If they did this, larger pharmacy employers could, and we say should voluntarily commence ethnicity pay gap reporting now, rather than waiting until they are forced to do so by legislation .

The greater risk for BAME pharmacists from COVID-19 is a current issue on which we are also raising concerns and calling for action from government and employers. This is an active issue which is evolving by the day and we will continue to update our members on developments.

To further our work on race equality we recently launched our BAME pharmacists network . All pharmacists are welcome to join the network and contribute to our further work on this critical issue.

This issue of racism is not new and is not going to be fixed quickly.  From some everyday interactions between people to long established structural processes, things need to change.  We’d like to hear from members about what else they would like to do in order to fight racism.  Please get in touch.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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