April 1, 2021
Employees with different backgrounds and life experiences each bring their own unique perspective to your independent pharmacy, and encouraging outside-of-the-box thinking can help you get ahead.
But if you’re not actively fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (or DEI), you may be missing out on those unique perspectives.
As a boss, focusing on DEI can help you ensure that all your employees are supported enough to succeed. As a business owner, diversity can give you a competitive advantage.
Learn more about the concept of DEI and how you can use it to make your pharmacy a better, more welcoming work environment.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are three different but intersecting concepts that when put together can make your pharmacy a more welcoming workplace for people of different backgrounds.
Learn more about each of these values and how you can implement them in your pharmacy.
According to Racial Equity Tools, diversity is how people differ, and while most people think of “race” or “gender” when they hear the word diversity, it broadly encompasses all sorts of characteristics that set people apart from one another, including:
When you prioritize equity in your pharmacy, you give all people fair treatment and access to opportunities. But it’s not just about treating everybody the same. In an equitable workplace, you will actively strive to eliminate barriers that prevent certain groups from achieving at an equal level.
For example, employers that strive to have equal pay for equal work regardless of gender don’t base salaries off of a candidate’s salary history, because women are more likely to have been underpaid for their work in the past.
Advocate Vernā Myers has said, “Diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
In an inclusive workplace, you’re not only bringing diverse workers into the fold, but you’re also actively working to make them feel welcomed and heard. For example, if you hire a wheelchair user for a position at your pharmacy but your pharmacy space isn’t fully wheelchair-accessible, you’ve succeeded at diversity but failed at inclusivity.
When you prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, your business wins. According to a McKinsey study, businesses that prioritize gender and ethnic diversity tend to outperform businesses that don’t.
By fostering diversity on your team, all of your employees will feel supported enough to do their best work. On the other hand, if employees have to deal with the extra stress of unconscious biases against them or outright prejudicial behavior, they aren’t being set up to succeed.
The way your pharmacy approaches diversity, equity, and inclusion can also affect your customer experience. If it’s not being valued behind the counter, patients from diverse backgrounds may not get the same kind of service as other patients, which can hurt both your reputation in the community and your bottom line.
There’s both a strong human and business case for implementing DEI policies in your pharmacy. Here’s how to get started.
Like a mission statement or vision statement, a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement is not just something you should write, stick in your manual, and then forget about. A DEI statement can go in your employee handbook, but it can also be displayed in your pharmacy or on your website to signal to your patients that you value their diverse experiences and will work to give them the best service no matter what their background is.
A DEI statement should start with your values. Write about why diversity is important to your pharmacy. For this part of the statement, it can be easy to default to buzz words, but take the time to examine why you think committing to diversity and inclusion will make your pharmacy a better place to work and visit.
After that, your statement should make a commitment. Outline what you are doing in the pharmacy to make it a more equitable and inclusive workplace. Without a pledge to take action, your DEI statement risks seeming hollow.
Read on for a few ideas about how to implement DEI values.
Even when you make diversity and inclusion a priority, unconscious bias can negatively affect your workplace.
Unconscious bias most frequently happens during hiring. For example, you might show preference to someone who went to the same pharmacy school as you, even if other candidates might be more qualified. In order to prevent bias in hiring, you can do things like performing blind resume reviews, asking all candidates the same questions, and not thinking about things like “culture fit.”
But unconscious bias can also appear on the job. You may give certain pharmacy tasks to a woman instead of a man, or promote an employee who seems confident even though in reality another is more competent.
Be aware of the different kinds of biases that can impact decision-making so you can recognize them in yourself.
Affinity groups are groups of employees who have similar backgrounds that can help diverse employees network, find mentorship opportunities, and learn from each other’s experiences.
While as a small pharmacy, you may not have enough employees to form individual affinity groups, you can help your staff members get connected with larger affinity groups that can aid in their professional development.
By supporting the diverse members of your workforce, you are more likely to retain them and ensure they are successful in their positions.
Another way you can promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is to encourage all of your employees to be allies. Allies are people who aren’t a member of a marginalized group, but they still support issues related to diversity and inclusion.
One issue that marginalized workers often face in the workplace is feeling like it always falls on them to improve diversity. An ally will also champion those causes — like recognizing that only white men were interviewed for a recent job opening and suggesting you keep looking for more diverse candidates before making a decision.
Allies will also amplify the voices of diverse co-workers, like repeating their good ideas for workplace improvement and giving them credit.
Have a meeting with all of your employees about all the ways they can be a good ally, and model ally behaviors whenever you can.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The member-owned company 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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