“Diversity means more than just ensuring representation by women.”

There are many aspects to diversity, says this NSW pharmacist and former refugee in the latest Guild Bulletin

Pharmacist Veronica Nou from Colyton Centre Pharmacy in NSW has told the Guild Bulletin that the push for greater diversity is more than simply addressing gender issues.

“The challenges for the pharmacy industry as a whole are not all that different to those facing the rest of society,” said Ms Nou.

“There are major barriers for women in achieving past a certain point in their careers.”

She points out while women make up the majority of pharmacy graduates and pharmacist employees, they are “very much the minority” in terms of committee representation and ownership.

“Obviously this is something that needs to be addressed,” she says, but adds that people of diverse backgrounds also need to be recognised.

“I think the Pharmacy Guild’s push for gender diversity is admirable and I support it wholeheartedly,” she says.

“But I do feel that the word diversity is often taken to mean only gender.

“There are many aspects to diversity—socio-economic backgrounds, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, do we live in metro or regional areas, and so on,” says Ms Nou.

She tells the Guild Bulletin that she is a former refugee.

“Even in the pharmacy sometimes, I’ll be doing something free of charge for a customer and they’re standing there telling me how terrible it is refugees are coming here.

“I stand there thinking, ‘it may come as a huge surprise to you but I was actually not born here’,” says Ms Nou.

The article comes following the Pharmacy Guild’s 2017 push for gender equity and diversity across Guild committees and companies.

This year’s elections for Guild Branch Committees and National Councillors will see women actively encouraged to stand for positions.

“We are making it clear we want female Guild members involved in the governance, direction and leadership of the Guild,” said Executive Director David Quilty.

“This is what we are saying to female Guild Members: If you are a female pharmacy owner and you’ve ever thought about running for Guild office, please know that we support you and we encourage you, and as an organisation we need you to come on board.

“We need you on board for the good of community pharmacy and the good of the Guild.”

Mr Quilty also writes that diversity concerns more than gender, and that he hopes to see the Guild leadership better represent the many ethnic backgrounds of the membership.

“Our Membership is ethnically diverse, and we are committed to trying to ensure the Guild is reflective of, and responsive to, the needs and expectations of our membership regardless of their ethnicity or gender.

“And that means also actively encouraging people from diverse ethnic backgrounds to become involved in Guild affairs and leadership.”

Read the full interview with Veronica here

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  1. Drugby

    So true Veronica. Diverse Boards and committees make better decisions. It’s also critical that these Boards and committees then allow the voice to be heard in a safe environment where one’s opinions and thoughts are respected. Too often new persons on Boards are viewed only for their gender/ethnicity/age diversity. So it takes courage and support to Lean In and have a seat at the table (Sheryl Sandberg).

    • Veronica Nou

      Thanks Debbie! That means a great deal coming from a voice as respected as yours. May the profession see a thousand more like you.

  2. pagophilus

    I’m all for diversity as long as it’s not a forced diversity. Out of those who WANT board positions, they should be chosen on their merits. So I don’t agree with targets – ie 50% of board members should be women etc. If 50% or more end up being women, fine, as long as it’s on merit, not on affirmative action or reverse-discrimination.

    • Jarrod McMaugh

      Leo I think it’s a little naive to think that any diversity is forced. It’s impossible to think of the number of pharmacists that are registered in Australia, and assume that there isn’t an even proportion of people from every background who have an interest in governance and advocacy.

      Of the people who may want a board position, how many do you think look at comments like “diversity shouldn’t be forced” and see that there are still people who will judge their fitness to represent based on their appearance rather than their capability?

      • pagophilus

        The gender or ethnic distribution of people who want certain positions is not even. Do you think that there is a 50/50 gender distribution of people who want board positions for example? Yes, diversity is sometimes forced. e.g. Labor’s call for women to make up 40% of Labor MPs. That’s OK if membership in the party is split 60/40 or if 40% of those standing for preselection are women, but this is not necessarily the case.
        There are a good number of women in prominent positions in pharmacy. Eg SHPA, Prof Lisa Nissen etc. They are very capable and obviously got to where they are on merit. By calling for greater diversity we are risking people getting into positions because of their gender or ethnicity rather than irrespective of it.

        • Andrew

          I’ve only recently become aware of the Mediocre Male Theory (and self-identify as such).

          Definitely worth looking in to for a different perspective on why gender quotas are important and how current leadership structures impair the meritocracy.

        • Jarrod McMaugh

          In response to your question, I will point out that the proportion of people that I refer to is the proportion of people interested within a particular subset of humans.

          That is, there may not be as many Italian-trained pharmacists practicing here as there are New Zealand-trained pharmacists (for instance), but of each group, the proportion of those who are interested in representation would be comparable.

          As for the proportion of the genders – I believe the current state of pharmacy in Australia is tipped towards women…. so this would mean that there must be more women than men who are interested in board representation. How could it be otherwise… unless there is some ingrained part of our culture that discourages it (overtly or surreptitiously)?

          • Leopold Hamulczyk

            Perhaps a significant number of women are more interested in family life? Perhaps those interested in representation are already involved or working toward it. There are no great barriers to female participation in various aspects of pharmacy.

          • Jarrod McMaugh

            Leo, quite often the barriers that are the hardest to overcome are the ones that seem to be intangible to other people (but are definitely real for the person it is affecting).

            I get the impression that you are someone who understands that people can have very significant aspects of their life that are intangible and difficult to demonstrate to other people. For this reason I find it very interesting that you are choosing to see this particular issue as completely black and white.

            I am guessing (but correct me if I’m wrong) that you are taking the legislative environment that is designed to protect a person from discrimination as completely effective, and social/community/cultural impacts on people’s behavior (conscious and subconscious) has no bearings at all.

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