Some of life’s most wonderful opportunities begin as experiments – null hypotheses to be stress-tested to determine whether they will one day bear fruit. The climate needs to be ideal of course and the ingredients combined in precisely the right proportions. Add to that the occasional need for the stars to be aligned, and it becomes obvious just how fraught with challenges the journey will be, and by extension, how meagre the chance of success. But the optimistic – nay, the bold – have given it a shot nonetheless, paving the way for breakthroughs that have transformed the experience of humanity from what it was tens of thousands of years ago.
And so it was with the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Forum of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine; it began as a vision, crystallised into strategic pillars and over the past couple of years has accomplished what we never imagined it would. Without the advocacy of stalwarts such as Dr Marcia Philbin, Dr Flic Gabbay and Dr Sheuli Porkess as well as numerous others, the dream of establishing EDI as an independent organisational pillar would never have occurred.
Since its inception, the forum has accomplished much, of which its members should rightfully be proud. What began as somewhat disorganised discussions related to EDI led to the structured generation of our very own strategic objectives, leading to discussions with leaders in various fields: fireside chats with Directors of major pharmaceutical companies, a webinar with two Deans of the Yale School of Public Health, and most recently an evocative discussion with the Global EDI lead at GSK. And our work is not finished.
Our initial goal was to raise awareness about the most pressing EDI issues with which organisations are confronted; sexism, homophobia, bullying in the workplace, racism and mental health. This will of course continue as the global tumult related to these issues demands an increasingly steadfast resolve on the part of organisations to ensure that they do not regress; although – as some have opined – the arc of the universe bends towards justice, progress is never guaranteed.
With a successful Phase I now well underway, the task before us will require a translation of the insights to date into tangible solutions for the benefit of our listeners, members and the wider pharmaceutical community. Phase II of the EDI forum will not be easy. But the alternative to complacency is not something our team is willing to entertain. In this connection, we will strive to overcome inevitable obstacles that will arise to see our objectives through to the end.
Global events coinciding with the Forum’s formation conspired to galvanise us into action. Our activities therefore have been conducted with both a heavy heart and a sense of inspiration; an empathy which strengthens our dedication and a zeal and inspiration informed by those who have come before us, and worked tirelessly for the creation of a more equitable world. FPM’s EDI forum is but a small cog – but this cog forms part of a network of similar organisations, striving to advance human progress by contributing in their own unique way.
It is an honour to serve as Chair of the EDI Forum, as I have done for the past few months. It is my hope that we can continue to deepen the foundations for the teams who will succeed us, so that they can attain heights – and effect constructive change – that is now beyond our wildest dreams.
The EDI forum is an experiment that almost was naught. But the coalescence of vision, determination and teamwork in the relentless pursuit of a fairer world sparked a reaction that I hope will continue to contribute to the emergence of a fairer world, for all. This ‘promised land’ will likely emerge long after we have all passed from the world stage. However, this august vision will only bear fruit if we boldly persist in doing whatever we can to make a difference in our own unique ways. It is my sincere belief that each one of us, are the ones called to bend the universe’s arc towards justice.
I wish you all Season’s Greetings – may 2023 mark another ascent on the rung of collective human progress.