The future is accessible

by Helen Reilly, Head of External Relations, RPS in Scotland

This International Day of People with Disabilities, I attended Inclusion Scotland’s The Future is Accessible 2019 event on behalf of RPS. I wanted to find out about the practical things that employers can do to help reduce the disability employment gap.  

In Scotland, data shows that in 2018 the employment rate for those classed as disabled under the Equality Act 2010 was 45.6 per cent which is significantly lower than the employment rate for non-disabled people (81.1 per cent). Scottish Government has committed to halving the disability employment gap by 2038.

Workplace benefits

By delivering more inclusive workplaces and improving employment practice for disabled people employers can secure a range of benefits. A more diverse workforce provides a wider perspective, offering insights for decision-making, and leading to the delivery of services that better meet the needs of all people.

At the event we heard from a number of employers about their positive experiences of recruiting an Inclusion Scotland intern and the benefits this brought to the whole team. We also heard from those with lived experience of the barriers faced by disabled people seeking employment. 

Kiana Kalantar-Hormozi, a previous intern from Evenbreak, told us ” The truth is that we’re innovators, creative-thinkers and problem solvers. So it’s time to rethink recruitment strategies to benefit your organisation – are you missing out on untapped talent?”

Small changes matter

There are some small and simple changes that organisations can make to their recruitment processes and ways of working to make their workplace more accessible for disabled employees. These include looking at working hours, increasing flexibility and offering interview support. 

There were also presentations from interns about their employment journeys and the opportunities that getting work experience opened up for them. Mags Moore of Sopra Steria saw their intern gain confidence and become a valued member of the team. 

She said, “There is an amazing talent pool waiting to get a foot on the employment ladder. You can give them that chance”.

Disability Confident

Diversity and inclusion is important at all levels in the workplace as it helps employees to feel accepted and valued. Staff who feel valued and supported are more likely to give their best and be motivated to be more productive, creative and innovative. This is why RPS has committed to improving how we recruit, retain and develop people with disabilities by signing up to the Disability Confident scheme, which supports employers to make the most of the talents people with disabilities can bring to the workplace.

Mags Moore told us that she believed that TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More and I think this is a very fitting reflection of how diversity in the workplace benefits everyone.

Inclusion and diversity update

by Paul Bennett, RPS Chief Executive

As your professional body, we are now working towards an inclusion and diversity strategy for pharmacy that values difference. We want to recognise, celebrate and encourage all voices and experiences across pharmacy so we can better represent you and our patients.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending three recent events hosted by the RPS to engage with members on this really important issue. The first was a celebration during Black History Month of the BAME community’s contribution to pharmacy and we had fantastic contributions and insights shared on the day.

The second was an Inclusion & Diversity workshop which was a key milestone on the programme of work we’ve embarked on. Being authentic at work, and in turn being able to feel a sense of true belonging, is something that means so much to each of us individually and I’m keen to champion this here at the RPS. I’m a strong believer that you can only be your best self if you are allowed to be the person you truly are in your workplace, so this programme, under the guidance of our excellent Chair, Asif Sadiq MBE, will produce a strategy that we hope will resonate across the profession as well as within the RPS itself.

The third event I attended was the Retired Pharmacist Group of the RPS. It’s clear to me that older age does not mean a decline in drive, energy and enthusiasm for the profession (or for life!) and I came away feeling both inspired and thankful to have among our membership such passionate and professional people who we can all learn so much from. I do hope RPG members take up my invitation to become RPS Mentors!

Our recent I&D survey of members has highlighted that they wish us to do more in the areas of disability, race and age, and we’ll be looking at how we can do this most effectively. We’ve also got a timeline of our activity so you can track our progress.

My view is that we can only be effective at tackling I&D issues if we’re not afraid to hear about the problems and challenges faced and address them. This requires each of us to have the courage to speak up and commit to not walking past inappropriate activity where we see it. Those of us in a position to create the environment for concerns to be raised without fear should do everything we can to enable that to happen.

I said at our I&D workshop that at times I had been self-conscious as a white, middle aged, heterosexual male trying to engage in conversation about BAME and LGBT+ issues as it might be perceived that I had no credibility to do so. Having talked about this with many people, I now realise that I’m not alone in having that concern BUT that it’s better to share my perspective, understand it for what it is, listen to all the other perspectives and actively contribute to this vital agenda. No one individual can profess to speak on behalf of groups of others, as we each have a unique perspective – we are all individuals after all, even though we will identify with certain groups.

RPS can only have credibility in this space if we ‘walk the talk’. Part of our commitment is therefore to do what is right by publishing data that shows our performance as an employer striving to create equal opportunity. We already publish data on our gender pay gap here at RPS and in future I am committing that we will also publish data on ethnicity and pay. We are not required by law to do either but it’s simply the right thing to do, as we believe we should lead by example.

I encourage you to engage with this discussion about inclusion and diversity whenever and wherever you can and to champion everyone’s right to be their authentic self in the workplace. Being authentic, feeling comfortable with who we are and bringing a diversity of perspectives and views to work will enrich the RPS and help us deliver the best possible support for our members, whatever their age, race, gender or sexuality.