Pay gap for pharmacists from ethnic minorities is more than £3,500 per year, survey suggests

Exclusive: The Pharmaceutical Journal's annual salary and job satisfaction survey has found a statistically significant pay gap in favour of white pharmacists for the past four years.
Black Pharmacist Wearing Face Shield Sells Medicine to Young Female Customer

There remains a significant gap between the pay of white pharmacists and those from ethnic minority backgrounds, results from the The Pharmaceutical Journal’s annual salary and job satisfaction survey for 2021 have suggested.

The survey of 1,112 pharmacists practising in Great Britain (see ‘Survey methodology’) found a median pay gap of 7.3% between white pharmacists and those from ethnic minority backgrounds, equating to a difference of £3,569 per year in cash terms, based on a 37.5-hour week.

The survey has identified a significant ethnicity pay gap in favour of white pharmacists for the past four years.

The median pay gap in 2021 suggests that white pharmacists earn £24.91 per hour, while those from ethnic minority backgrounds earn £23.08 per hour (P<0.001). 

A pay gap was also identified when the data were analysed by gender and ethnicity — white male pharmacists had the highest median hourly rate of pay at £25.60, followed by white female pharmacists at £24.60, ethnic minority male pharmacists at £23.60 and ethnic minority female pharmacists at £23.00.

Based on a 37.5-hour week, this equates to a difference of £5,070 per year between white male pharmacists and ethnic minority female pharmacists — a pay gap of 10.2%.

When the data were analysed by sector, the median pay gap was statistically significant for ethnic minority pharmacists working within the community and hospital sectors (7.0% and 10.5%, respectively, P=0.001). While there may be pay gaps in other sectors, the sample sizes were not big enough to detect them.

The number of pharmacists responding to the survey from ethnic minority backgrounds was also too small to detect pay gaps between individual ethnicities.

Unlike reporting of the gender pay gap, where it is mandatory for companies with more than 250 employees, reporting ethnicity pay gaps is voluntary. According to the Office for National Statistics, the pay gap between white and ethnic minority groups in England and Wales in 2019 was 2.3%, its narrowest level since 2012.

Nkiruka Umaru, principal lecturer in clinical pharmacy in the department of clinical, pharmaceutical and biological sciences at the University of Hertfordshire, said “a lot” of work was needed to understand why there was still a significant difference in pay between white and ethnic minority pharmacists.

“It could be due to organisational policies and the extent of implementation, of any policies that seek to address the closure of the pay gap between non-white and white pharmacist colleagues,” she said.

“It may also be down to the level of transparency within these organisations. Lastly, at an individual level, it may be that [ethnic minority] colleagues are less confident in negotiating this aspect of their employment or contract for several reasons.”

Speaking at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s ‘Driving equality for women in pharmacy’ event on 19 November 2021, Prerana Issar, chief people officer at the NHS, said: “We know from General Pharmaceutical Council data that 44% of pharmacists and 13% of pharmacy technicians are from ethnic minority backgrounds. And 62% of pharmacists and 88% of pharmacy technicians are women.”

“However, fewer than 1% of leaders in pharmacy are women of colour, so there’s enormous potential for the pharmacy profession to make sure that all of the talents, all of the skills, and all of the contributions of people within pharmacy are being tapped into and supported.”

In September 2021, data published exclusively by The Pharmaceutical Journal revealed that 30 out of 41 senior pharmacy staff employed by NHS England and NHS Improvement at Band 8a and above are of white ethnicity, equating to just over 73%.

A spokesperson for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said the society voluntarily publishes its “gender and ethnicity pay gaps and, for the first time, will also publish our disability pay gap this year”.

“We’d like to see similar levels of transparency around pay gaps published by employers across the profession.”

Box: Survey methodology

The Pharmaceutical Journal salary and job satisfaction survey was conducted between 1 September 2021 and 29 September 2021. The analyses, carried out by independent statisticians at the University of Aberdeen, included 1,112 non-locum pharmacists practising in Great Britain. 

Non-parametric tests were used for bivariate comparisons of median hourly rates and a general linear model was used for the multivariable analysis. 

Read more: Work-related stress — the hidden pandemic in pharmacy

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2021, Vol 307, No 7955;307(7955)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.116449