Survey reveals ‘concerning’ ethnicity pay gap for UK pharmacists

women pharmacists black white

Following results that male pharmacists in the UK are out-earning women by 6.4%, data also shows a 16% pay gap between white and black/Asian/minority ethnic pharmacists

Results of a survey carried out by The Pharmaceutical Journal have revealed a pay gap of 16% – or £8,000 (AUD$14,000) – between white and non-white pharmacists in the UK.

The 16% pay gap was calculated based on estimated median pro rata salaries of £50,960 (AUD$89,636) for white pharmacists and £43,056 (AUD$75,734) for black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) pharmacists, assuming a 40-hour working week. 

The £7,904 median difference in annual pay was found to be statistically significant after an analysis by independent academic statisticians from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

The ethnicity pay gap in pharmacy appears to be much wider than for other professions, such as medicine, for which a 5% median ethnicity pay gap was uncovered in The BMJ on 5 September 2018. 

Pharmacy’s ethnicity pay gap also appears to be larger than the 6% gender pay gap as measured by the same survey.

Mahendra Patel, a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board and honorary senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield, speaking in a personal capacity, said the results should be treated with “caution”, but added “the differences which appear are statistically significant and still of concern”.

He asked: “Is it because a larger proportion of the BAME group customarily occupy lower paid/ranked positions because they are simply just resigned to it? Is it due to direct or indirect experience(s) that has made them feel they should not/cannot apply for higher paid/ ranked positions?

“It is because there is a real lack of confidence and belief in themselves to actively seek promotion for higher paid/ranked positions? Or is there some inherent unconscious/conscious bias among those who recruit for higher paid/ranked jobs?”

In response to these data, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care UK said that although there was no evidence of staff in exactly the same roles being paid differently based on their ethnicity, any pay unfairness was “unacceptable”.

“The NHS is a very diverse employer, but it is unacceptable that pay inequalities still exist — this has no place in a modern employer and we’re determined to tackle it,” they said.

See the full Pharmaceutical Journal article by reporters Nigel Praities and Angela Kam here.

The Journal also published an editorial also asking whether pharmacy employers should be compelled to publish ethnicity pay gap figures alongside gender pay gap statistics.

Analysis of statistics in Australia from 2016 reveals female pharmacists are falling behind their male counterparts in earnings.

According to combined statistics from the ATO and the ABS, male pharmacists earn an average annual salary of $85,362, while the average income for female pharmacists is $63,503.

The raw pay gap sits at 34.4%, although when adjusted by hours worked, the gap narrows to 13.6%.

“It would likely be the case that career progression into owning a pharmacy is stalled by the reality for many women of taking on a greater caring role for their children through their prime working years,” said Ben Phillips, a principal research fellow at the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods.

However there are no equivalent statistics looking at ethnicity and pay for pharmacists in Australia.

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  1. Alexander Wong

    Ah the ethnicity pay gap. I have had many-a-good debates about this. As you all may know, this is not just a pharmacy issue.

    As a member of the BAME minority I reject the notion that the ethnicity pay gap is a “concerning” issue that needs addressing. Unless the pay gap is related to racism/prejudice which is another whole issue in its own. (And is also illegal)

    In a non racist workplace your ethnicity has no bearing on how well you do your work. If this pay gap has arisen due to your inability to effectively negotiate a raise etc then it is a personal problem not a ethnicity problem. There would also be many “white” colleagues that would also experience such personal challenges.

    One argument which is proposed is that members of the BAME minority exhibit leadership skills and values in different ways. Skills and values which are not necessarily valued in Western societies and hence members of the BAME minority are disadvantaged when applying for higher jobs. Although this may be plausible, I believe the argument is a fallacy as it is usually a choice to practice in a Western society and it would be most effective if one demonstrated skills that would be useful in said society. Just like how we would adjust our practices to suit cultural norms if we were to practice in Japan for example.

    My two cents. I have a relative that sits on the cultural diversity commitee for the treasury and we are constantly locking horns over this. (Views are my own)

    • pagophilus

      I agree with you. If there is a white majority then it is important that they accommodate those in the minority (which they have done) but those in the minority have to adjust to the way the majority function. This is simply a fact of life. I have experienced many pharmacists of a certain cultural background who fit into our society and workplace just fine, and at least one who was so out of step due to his own cultural background and mentality that it was very difficult for him to function in the workplace.

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