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How to Promote Diversity in Your Pharmacy

How to Create an Inclusive Pharmacy and Diversity

June 18, 2020

Inside: How to improve your business with inclusive practices for employees and patients. 

By promoting diversity in your pharmacy, you can make your store a better place for both patients and employees.

A recent study from The Center for Workforce Excellence found that having a workplace that reflects the demographics of the community will be more likely to innovate. And a report from McKinsey shows that workplaces that are less diverse are also less profitable.

For patients, an inclusive pharmacy that provides culturally competent care can improve health outcomes and turn your store into a trusted healthcare destination.

If you are not actively working towards a diverse pharmacy, you could losing out on opportunities for success in the future. Keep these steps in mind to make your store a more inclusive space.

Fostering Inclusion and Diversity as an Employer

Your pharmacy runs more smoothly when all employees feel welcome and valued. And when you have team members that are as diverse as your community, your patients will be more satisfied with the pharmacy.

But promoting diversity in the workplace is an ongoing task that takes commitment to the cause. To promote inclusivity in your pharmacy, here’s what you should keep in mind.

Recruit diverse candidates

When you post about an open position at your pharmacy, the first slate of applicants may not necessarily reflect the diversity of your community.

If that’s the case, make an effort to reach out to a wider applicant pool. In addition to posting your open position on standard job sites, also post on sites that cater to specific affinity groups. Sites like Professional Diversity Network or can help connect you to a diverse group of job seekers so you know that you can be confident you’re hiring the best match.

Create welcoming workplace policies

When you have a diverse workforce in place, you also have to make sure that the pharmacy can accommodate a diverse set of needs.

You may offer Christmas as a day off for your employees, but that doesn’t mean much to those who practice other religions. Consider adding “floating holidays” so that everyone can celebrate according to their personal traditions. Religious accommodations may even extend to adding a prayer room or designating a fridge for Kosher food items.

Check in frequently with your employees to make sure their needs are being met. If you aren’t open to making adjustments in the pharmacy, you risk employees feeling alienated and like they have to hide parts of their identity at work. That means lower productivity and engagement as well as higher employee turnover.

Commit to improvement

Most workplaces are willing to pay lip service to the idea of diversity, but actually creating an inclusive workplace can be hard work. Affirm your commitment by creating a concrete diversity and inclusion plan.

This may mean doing some soul searching to confront issues you have in your pharmacy. If your front end employees are all the same gender or your pharmacy techs are all the same race, those may be areas to work on.

Diversity education can help you recognize unconscious bias and assess what parts of your company culture could be alienating to others. Education can happen at all levels from your front end clerks to your leadership.

You may even want to go the extra mile by creating mentorships to help employees of color or other marginalized employees advance. Another Center for Talent Innovation study found that employees of color who had a sponsor to help guide during their career were more satisfied and successful in their jobs.

Fostering Inclusion and Diversity as a Pharmacist

Whether the cause is economic inequality, a language barrier, or racial discrimination, patients of color frequently do not receive the same quality of care as white patients.

To remedy this, pharmacists must acknowledge that the gap exists. Surveys have found that most people believe Black patients receive the same quality of care as white patients, even though there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary.

As the healthcare provider that patients see most often, pharmacists can improve outcomes for patients of color by making equal care a part of their organizational mission.

Foster trust

One reason patients of color might not get the care they need is that they don’t feel comfortable sharing their concerns with healthcare professionals. They may have been treated poorly by a healthcare provider in the past or heard about bad experiences from others in their community.

This mistrust is one reason it’s important to have a diverse staff behind the pharmacy counter. Patients may be more willing to share their health needs with a pharmacist or pharmacy technician that looks like them or speaks their native language.

No matter who is serving patients, care should be delivered in a non-judgmental and respectful manner. It’s critical for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to be flexible in their communication and sensitive to different cultural attitudes.

City of Hope, an organization that aims to decrease healthcare disparities, recommends working with community organizations like churches in order to foster better relationships with minority patients.

Work to close the gap

Disparities in care mean that people of color are more likely to die from heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza, pneumonia, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS than white patients. Pharmacists who recognize these unfortunate facts are better able to provide culturally competent care. This could mean offering opportunities for health screenings, doing more education, or collaborating with patients’ physicians.

Medication adherence is often lower in Black and Hispanic communities than it is in predominantly white communities. A study in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities found that a face-to-face counseling session to help patients understand their treatment helped to improve adherence.

Also keep in mind that minorities are under-represented in clinical trials, so the treatments that are successful for white patients may not have the expected results for patients of color. Because of this, it’s especially important to chat with patients about their current medication regimen.


An Independently Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies 

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is a member-owned organization that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited (formerly VAWD) warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.

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