Our vision for inclusive pharmacology

Where do we stand?

The British Pharmacological Society commits to placing equity, diversity and inclusion at the heart of pharmacology, whether in terms of the opportunity for a successful career (in pharmacology or at the Society) or in benefitting from pharmacology research. Pharmacology is for everyone.

To do this, we must acknowledge that the pharmacology community is part of a wider society, which is not equal. People are denied opportunities when aspects of identity (e.g. gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background) are allowed to define who succeeds and what success looks like because of inequalities entrenched in our systems, processes and our unconscious minds. It follows that if lack of opportunity is systemic then its counterpart, privilege, is as well. Taken together and left unchallenged, the result is systemic inequality.

If inequality is systemic, then equality cannot be about “granting access” to the world as it is now, framing it as “magnanimously letting people from a diverse range of backgrounds in” but refusing to fundamentally change the locks. It must be about critically examining and challenging the society we live in. We must reimagine the world together as equals. This starts with naming inequalities, the injuries they cause and how they continue to exert influence. It will develop as we actively listen to each other and create space to examine our experiences, values and responsibilities. It will evolve further as we acknowledge that this discussion is really about power structures and value – and by extension, who is allowed to truly belong.

We can commit to listen more actively and more carefully, meeting the experiences of others with curiosity, compassion, and a determinedness to explore how we can co-create something different and better together. Bringing our perspectives, experiences and values to our work is how we can start making change that is larger than ourselves: coming together as communities and organisations to reimagine power and value, using these to shape our systems for the future.  

The Society is motivated by fairness, respect for others and integrity. We also believe that wider society will be in a better position to meet (and define) health and social challenges if a broad mix of people are involved in research and decision-making. We want to be part of creating a socially just world. We will do this by working with our members, partner organisations and wider networks to focus on the areas our organisation has the ability to make a difference in – areas such as education, publishing and research culture.

This is embedded in our strategy, which has set the stage for the work we have started and are committed to.

What are we doing?

Our strategic commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion cuts across all aspects of our organisational identity:

  • Our members. The Society seeks to represent, and be inclusive of, people from a wide variety of backgrounds across the communities we serve. We are proud of our friendly, vibrant, professional and supportive community. We will provide a supportive environment within our Society that celebrates achievements and provides encouragement when things don’t go to plan. We will remove systemic barriers to participation that may be faced by existing or potential members – such as participation in Society committees and groups, and recognition through our prizes and awards.
  • Our staff. The Society is committed to being an inclusive employer. We will continue to evolve our approach to inclusive recruitment, staff support and development, and a positive organisational culture.  
  • Research practice and dissemination. The Society disseminates pharmacological research through our journals and meetings. We will ensure our publication and review processes are inclusive, fair, and support participation from a diverse range of people across the sector. We will work with our journals, and through our meetings and events to continue to set and communicate inclusive standards for research and practice, and the decisions we make about our commissioning. We will also embed EDI into our criteria for scientific content shared at our meetings and events to help everyone benefit from the outcomes of pharmacology research.
  • Education and training. We provide education and training, delivering the UK national prescribing assessment alongside a national and international programme of continuing professional development through workshops, e-learning and assessment, and supporting our community of educators through curricula and networks. We will work to ensure education and training content developed by the Society is accessible and that it addresses equality, diversity and inclusion in its content where relevant. We will work with educators and institutions to help ensure pharmacology education, training and engagement is open and accessible to all (including diversifying and decolonising curricula), with the ambition of widening participation.
  • Our role in the wider community. The Society is part of a wider scientific community including funders, employers, professional bodies and other learned societies. We will contribute to – and advance - wider discussions about equality, diversity and inclusion and collaborate with our partners in the sector to support widening participation, positive research culture, and inclusive research and experimental design - supporting and learning from them, and actively seeking opportunities to make a larger impact.

Where are we now?

  • Our journals publisher, Wiley,  is among the first signatories to the Joint Committment for Action on Inclusive and Diversity in Publishing, a global network of publishers which aims to drive positive change within by collaborating on key inclusion and diversity principles. Wiley also supports The Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC) Joint Statement of Principles. Find out more about in their Inclusive Language Guidelines.
  • We have an open call for names of people or places who have made contributions to the field of pharmacology and who deserve an award to be named after them. We recognise that most of our awards are named after caucasian men, so we are particularly interested to hear suggestions which reflect the diversity of those working in pharmacology.
  • In 2022 we wanted to focus on removing barriers to inclusion, building equity and accessibility into every entry, progression, and decision point within the Society. Committee and staff leads collaborated and contributed to a discussion paper of current inclusive work and successes (including Grants, Awards, Committee membership, and Society membership). An action plan template framework was developed, and all core committees discussed this in the 2022 cycle, embedding this into core process. Committees will develop targeted action plans in 2023 and continue to share best practice and learnings to build capacity and understanding.
  • The Society embedded our commitment to EDI in our 2018-22 strategy. Our strategic objective states that we will work “to remove barriers to participation and success, while welcoming equality and celebrating diversity, and being inclusive in all we do”.
  • In 2019, we completed an independent external review to examine our organisational processes and overall approach to support us to achieve this objective, and to identify where we need to develop and change. This review used the Science Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Framework as the framework for assessment. Council ratified the report and agreed that the Society would continue to implement its recommendations. Through our 2020 business objectives, we have committed to holding ourselves accountable for this.
  • Read the results of our external review, to learn more about what we have achieved so far as we seek to deliver our 2018-2022 strategy. Highlights include approving a code of conduct for all our external meetings and events and implementing an EDI prize – the first winner of which was Dr Aidan Seeley.
  • We are a member organisation of EDIS Group (a coalition of organisations across science and health). Through our membership we have contributed to shaping EDIS and its activities – and we share its vision that everyone should have equal opportunities and access to a successful career within Science or Health, its research and its outcomes.
  • We are a member of the Royal Society of Biology’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, through which we share knowledge and strengthen our networks among similar organisations.
  • We approved business objectives for 2020 that build on the recommendations of our external review, and are currently working on developing our 2021 objectives.

What is next for EDI at the Society?

  • We will continue to integrate recommendations from our external review into business objectives over the duration of this strategy and ensure that EDI continues to develop as a central pillar of our work in the years to come.
  • We recognise that achieving our ambitions of an equal, diverse and inclusive Society membership and wider pharmacology community will be an extensive, long-term piece of work that will require us to be flexible in our approach as we learn more, and require us to continue to hold ourselves to account.
  • Read 'What does diversity mean to the Society?'  as we consider what diversity means to the Society and what actions we need to take next.

How can you get involved?

We want to make change and help you make change. Find out how we can support your projects and work in EDI.

Further reading