We're proud to celebrate Pride Month
With the month of June upon us we're once again proud to celebrate Pride Month, an important time for us all to raise awareness of how damaging discrimination can be, encourage more understanding of those in the LGBTQIA+ community and acknowledge how far LGBTQIA+ rights have come; and with this year marking 50 years of Pride, there's plenty to celebrate. This time also serves as a reminder of how much equality, diversity and inclusion as a whole are still lacking in society ' which has never been more evident in recent history.
The current state of affairs
With issues of inequality being reported across the pharmacy industry, many companies face the challenge of ensuring their leaders and teams are valuing diversity and being inclusive in all work practices. It's also important to consider the trickle-down effect of this'
Pain points in patient care
Lack of inclusion affects not just pharmaceutical professionals in their experience at work and career progression, but also the members of society they serve. LGBTQIA+ patients have many unique health needs that are not currently met, alongside various other conditions which are impacting them but not represented adequately in the curriculum (as confirmed by the 2017 National LGBT survey).
It's important to tackle LGBTQIA+ discrimination in education and healthcare settings, and crucially, improve LGBTQIA+ patient care ' a point echoed by Scott Rutherford, President of the PDA LGBT+ Pharmacists' Network:
'People within the LGBT+ community experience a range of health inequalities, from higher rates of mental ill-health to difficulty accessing the care they need ' although some pharmacy schools are doing great work in the arena of inclusion, all pharmacy schools should be ensuring that students are given the knowledge they need to be respectful to their patients and colleagues and provide culturally competent care.'
The importance of inclusion & diversity
According to results of the most recent Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Survey, a sizeable 83% of respondents felt it was important for RPS to strategically support I&D (Inclusion and Diversity) ' sending a crystal-clear message. Often overlooked when it comes to I&D, disability was flagged as the area needing the most support and improvement, followed closely by age and race.
Disability was also perceived to be the biggest barrier to working in pharmacy, with other barriers ranging from age and pregnancy to maternity status ' demonstrating that from LGBTQIA+ communities to other marginalised groups ' we still have a long way to go.
How associations are taking action
Coinciding with this year's Pride Month, the PDA LGBT+ Pharmacists' Network has launched a range of resources to update the curriculum at Schools of Pharmacy where LGBTQIA+ inclusion is lacking. This includes an action plan, a set of case studies and a list of resources ' to provide pharmacy schools with actionable changes to help them diversify the curriculum, make LGBTQIA+ students feel more secure, and improve the care of LGBTQIA+ patients.
As part of the major review and reform of pharmacy education and training, Health Education England (HEE) is working to improve access ' and as an initial step are running an engagement exercise to determine how best to continue to shape professional education.
Organisations like PDA LGBT+ Pharmacists' Network encourage pharmacy professionals to get involved and share best practice with colleagues, and Pride in Practice are working with healthcare professionals to make public services more accessible and inclusive for LGBTQIA+ communities.
Industry leaders can help to normalise LGBTQIA+ representation in their organisations, let members of the LGBTQIA+ community take up space, and support their professional journey.
Pride month is about acceptance, equality, celebrating the work of LGBTQIA+ people and raising awareness of issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ community. Every pharmacy professional should be able to come to work as their authentic self, feel comfortable, understood and heard ' and experience the same opportunities as anyone else. So this Pride Month and beyond ' celebrate being proud of who you are, no matter who you love.