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PDA BAME Network launches Tokenism Factsheet

In recent years, many organisations may have taken positive steps towards fostering diverse work environments. However, the perception of tokenism persists in some workplaces. The PDA BAME Network has put together a factsheet to provide an overview of tokenism in the workplace, and to help pharmacists, trainees and students understand its impact and help them lead a conversation in the workplace on the topic.

Thu 14th December 2023 The PDA

Tokenism in the workplace refers to a practice where an organisation includes a minimal number of individuals from underrepresented groups to create an appearance of diversity while issues of systemic inequalities remain unchanged. True diversity and inclusion mean that everyone has equal opportunity for progression and is respected for their individual contribution. Employers therefore need to not just avoid tokenism, but also ensure genuine efforts to improve diversity and inclusion cannot be interpreted as being tokenistic.

Individuals from significantly underrepresented minorities who are perceived as tokens can feel isolated, sometimes expected to somehow represent an entire group while struggling to be seen and heard for their own unique set of skills and talents. This can have detrimental effects on their mental health and future professional development. Additionally, tokenism hinders genuine progress towards creating equitable workplaces.

It is important to note that not all efforts to be more diverse should be interpreted as tokenism. Individuals who are the first with their protected characteristic to occupy a role should first be seen for their individual contribution and may also be celebrated as trailblazers. It is only where no subsequent colleagues with the same protected characteristic can follow that it may appear that tokenism has taken place.

The PDA BAME Network urges employers to take proactive steps to counteract tokenism. Organisations must not just prioritise numerical diversity and create a truly inclusive culture that gives all people from all backgrounds a sense of empowerment, respect, and value regardless of the protected characteristics of their colleagues.

Nav Bhogal, PDA BAME Network Co-opted member said “For diversity to flourish everyone needs to be heard and valued as individuals regardless of their own protected characteristics and those of their colleagues. All employers must make clear in word and action that their commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion is genuine and never just an effort to manage perception.

The PDA BAME Network’s Tokenism Factsheet can be found below.

Download the factsheet here

thumbnail of Tokenism factsheet – PDA BAME Network

Get involved

  • Join the PDA BAME Network 
  • Follow the PDA BAME Network on social media using #PDAbame
  • Share the factsheet with colleagues in your workplace or employer.
  • Contact your local rep about ways you can address tokenism if you observe it in your workplace
  • Become a PDA Rep
  • If you would like to get involved with the network and its activities, email

Learn more

  • For more information about the PDA BAME Network, click here.

Not yet a PDA member?

If you have not yet joined the PDA, we encourage you to join today and ask your colleagues to do the same.

Membership is FREE to pharmacy students, trainee pharmacists and for the first three months of being newly qualified.


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