Category: Discrimination

Day Job and Gay Job???

Here is another one of those interesting issues that I frankly have never thought much about. That is, how well or poorly does the biopharma industry deal with LGBTQ+ issues in comparison to other environments. 

Check this out. What you will see is a fascinating series of observations and recommendations on this topic. Overall, this piece notes, less than 50% of LGBTQ+ employees are “out” at their place of work. BUT. For our industry, the good news is that our companies are heavy in PhDs, MDs and other educated professionals, who tend to be more accepting of alternative lifestyles. AND. Our companies also tend to be located in or near big cities, with urbanites being more accepting of differences in sexual orientation than rurals.

Arguably, the bad news is that most biopharma companies do not have special programs or initiatives to reach out to LGBTQ+ consumers, although companies like GSK are beginning to move in this direction.

An important point is made in this article with the observation that not all of the letters in the LGBTQ+ acronym have the same issues. Transgender employees who transition while on the job, it is noted, require that other employees also transition. Translated, if the boss that used to use the men’s room suddenly transitions to using the ladies’ room, some eyebrows will likely furrow and tongues wag. 

Bottom Line. At the end of the day, the executives interviewed for this article were largely unanimous in recommending that members of the LGBTQ+ community speak their “own truth” in the workplace setting. Backing down on issues related to sexual orientation is likely to be deleterious to both the employee and to the gay community at large.

Moreover, HIV/AIDS is not the only market where members of the LGBTQ+ community constitute a significant, and significantly different, market segment. Product managers need to decide if their product offers special benefits to this community, and target and tailor their promotional messages accordingly.

All interesting issues. How does your company rate? What should it be doing differently as we move into 2022???

This is Really Pathetic!!!

Check this out. What you will find is an article reporting that female physicians, on average, make $2 Million less than their male counterparts do over the course of their careers. Sure, their work/life balance might favor the home front somewhat more than the guys, but $2 Million worth??? And this study is adjusted for hours worked!!!

And, just to round out the pathos, recall the studies I have posted here previously, that found that women actually tend to be better doctors then men. More compassionate, greater attention to detail.  My last two concierge internists have been females, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Bottom Line. Beyond the inherent injustice of pay inequity, the author goes on to point out that all of this sends a very troubling message to women considering a career in medicine. And this, my friends, is the last thing we need in an era where good doctors, in fact, any doctors, are hard to come by!!!

Tackling Racial Disparity in Cancer Care

Check this out. What you will see is a necessarily long article on a complicated topic. Article after article I perused in the last week speaks to different aspects of racial inequality encountered in healthcare. I read one by a Black ER doctor describing the myriad different kinds of racism he faces daily in his job. Another article cried out for racial bias reduction training in medical schools. Etc. Etc.

But this article grabbed me because of its specificity to the treatment of cancer patients. This piece doesn’t talk about undoing prejudice that is deeply rooted in history. Not exactly a quick fix. Nope! It talks about the importance of attaining a singular pragmatic endpoint, completion of therapy, and the benefits of interventions like providing patients, like the woman pictured above, with transportation to get to the therapy site, and nurse navigators and computer systems being employed to help in the effort. 

Bottom Line. Over the past several years that I have been examining paths toward racial equity in healthcare, I have become increasingly impressed with pragmatic interventions like this that can make a real difference and do it now! Sure, there are loftier goals, like eliminating racial prejudice. But think about it this way. Which is the more certain path, with quicker benefits? Eliminating racism to eliminate healthcare disparity or reducing healthcare disparity and having the effects of that pragmatic shift start to whittle away at prejudicial attitudes? 

As this article clearly points out, option B is going to start to save cancer patients’ lives far more quickly. Let’s learn from studies like this one, which identified practical barriers getting in the way of health equity in cancer care, and start to eliminate them! Now!!!

“Drag Nuns,” Mandatory Face Masks, a Pandemic, and Uber

Silly me. I had never heard of “drag nuns,” nor was I aware that there seems to be a business opportunity in having groups of them perform. So check this out. Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this piece, because its point is a simple one. That is, Uber and Lyft drivers cannot legally discriminate against LGBTQ passengers or Blacks. BUT. They can refuse rides to passengers not wearing masks. SO. They simply report to their company that someone whose appearance is unacceptable or scary to them is not wearing a mask, and off they drive without the aforementioned potential passenger in the car.

Bottom Line., So what’s my point here? Like I said, a simple one! The COVID-19 pandemic has now been knit into all kinds of social controversies. “Mask Mandates.” “Vaccine Mandates.” News reports of people getting injured in fights breaking out between groups on opposite sides of these issues. And now this. Masks, or the purported absence thereof, being used as excuses for otherwise unacceptable discriminatory behavior.

My guess? These psychological perturbations that have resulted from the pandemic will linger in our society long after the virus itself has been brought under control! 


Health Care Inequity

Check this out. What you will see, as I increasingly find myself saying, is something that will not surprise you but will shock you. An extremely well written piece on how racial discrimination leads to health care inequity in the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of cancer. Big time!!!

BUT. There are, however, geographic “bright spots.” Areas of the US where the disparities in cancer outcomes between blacks and whites are significantly smaller than the national averages.  Here’s a question. Why???

Here’s the more important question. How do we get these health equity bright spots’ characteristics to spread to other areas of the US? 

Across the pharmaceutical industry, we are increasingly, and gratefully, seeing a genuine commitment to helping to reduce racial health inequity. Here at ThinkGen, we are joining in that effort. We have partnered with Volunteers In Medicine (VIM) on Hilton Head Island, SC, and as a board member at that organization, I have the opportunity to be a “participant observer” in an organization that serves over 10,000 previously underserved patients, 90% of them being of color.  Using ethnographic methods over the next few months, I am going to increasingly focus on getting an understanding of the innermost workings of such an organization, and then go on to study a series of Federally Qualified Health Centers to find out their “backstories.” How they work, how are they different from other medical settings and how pharmaceutical companies can help. I will be sharing my findings with you here.

Bottom Line.  As demonstrated at today’s referenced URL, racial health inequity can be reduced. But we need to know more about “how” so that we can develop appropriate strategies and tactics to go beyond lip service.

What can you do today to help in the effort to make that happen?


Want to get really angry about the human condition in 2021? Check this out. What you will see is a qualitative study that demonstrates that physicians of color are “routinely” subjected to significant racism. In fact, it’s a trifecta. They report being discriminated against by their institutions, by their colleagues and even by their patients. About one quarter of doctors of color reported that patients had actually declined treatment due to the race of the practitioner. Good grief!

And the authors of this piece use an interesting term, “microaggressions,” to refer to such experiences. Somehow, I am reminded of the old expression, “Like being nibbled to death by ducks.”  Something that happens slowly, inexorably, painfully. 

Bottom Line. In the end, the authors not surprisingly report that all of these microaggressions have a substantial negative impact on these physicians’ reported quality of professional life.

How could they not???