#Timeforchange: Thanks to the thousands who shared their experiences

Posted on March 21, 2019 by Daniella Dos Santos

Last month BVA carried out our first ever questionnaire on discrimination in the veterinary professions. We had an unprecedented response, with over 2400 members of the veterinary community sharing their experiences, demonstrating the scale of the problem we face. The survey was open to everyone working in the professions and I would like to thank every one of you who took the time to respond. We would also like to thank BVLGBT+ and BVEDS for their help in putting the survey together.

Still a chance to have your voice heard

Some concerns were raised that the questionnaire did not offer those who had not knowingly faced any discrimination an opportunity to express this. The intention of the questionnaire was not to establish the prevalence of discrimination within the profession, but to provide a platform for concerns to be raised, as well as identify areas of support we can develop and good practices already out there. We agree that this feedback needs to be contextualised, and there will be a selection of questions within our next Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey to provide more quantitative data. The survey will be sent via email to all BVA members in the UK and I would encourage members to look out for these emails and participate, whether you have knowingly experienced discrimination or not.

"We cannot understand what we have not experienced"

Reading the accounts described was moving, upsetting and concerning and once again I want to thank so many members of the profession for sharing potentially traumatic experiences. Gender, race, age and being a parent were the top areas of discrimination identified, but colleagues also shared their experiences of being discriminated against due to their disability, sexual orientation and religious beliefs, amongst other reasons. Discrimination is a societal, not solely veterinary, issue and as a representative body BVA has a duty to challenge any sort of discrimination faced by our members. Despite the findings of our recent workforce research and the response we have had to this survey, a small but vocal number of our profession continually question the presence of discrimination. We cannot understand what we have not experienced: we need to listen, learn and challenge. As long as we stay silent people suffer, so we need to drive a culture change.

We are currently analysing the data further and from May we will be able to consider it alongside the quantitative data from the Voice survey and produce a report on the current situation. We can then use this data to develop further resources to educate and support members, as well as feed into our Good Workplace Working Group and policy position. We will also feed some of the insights into the RCVS working group on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.

Support

I’d like to remind any BVA member who is struggling with discrimination that BVA has support available for members in the form of the legal helpline. You can speak to a specialist legal advisor for free, unbiased and confidential advice to help you understand your rights and access support at an early stage. If necessary, a free mediation service and legal representation (for employee members) is available. Vetlife also offers a 24-hour independent and confidential helpline and email service for the whole veterinary community.

Daniella Dos Santos

Written by Daniella Dos Santos

BVA Junior Vice President and AWF trustee

Daniella is currently studying towards a CertAVP Zoological Medicine and is the Principal Exotics Vet at Park Vets Hospital. She is also BVA Junior Vice President, the current Chair of the BVA Ethics and Welfare Advisory Panel and a trustee for the Animal Welfare Foundation.