AOP campaign

A pledge against discrimination

The AOP has launched a new campaign to promote inclusivity in optometry as a first step in an ongoing programme of work to tackle inequalities in the profession

animation of people working
The AOP has launched its new 100% Respect campaign, encouraging professionals and businesses across optometry to sign up to a pledge to “unite optometry against discrimination.”

The 100% Respect campaign asks individuals and businesses to make a pledge and take steps to create inclusive environments – sharing their intentions through social media.

The campaign was launched in time for 100% Optical, encouraging the thousands of optical attendees to take up the pledge, and also coincides with Ramadan. 

The campaign was informed by AOP’s latest Voice of Optometry survey, which focused on equality, diversity and inclusivity, and which revealed worrying numbers of incidents related to discrimination in the last two years. The full research findings will be disclosed in early May.

Serena Box, PR and media manager for the AOP, explained: “It’s important that everyone, regardless of their ethnicity or background, is vocal on equality and encourages others to be the same.”

Large corporate businesses, independent practice owners, employees, locums and students are all encouraged to sign up to the pledge.

“As part of the asks of the campaign, we encourage anyone who sees or experiences discrimination to report it, and we’re working with senior industry leaders and business owners to take all reasonable steps to eliminate discrimination including following our guidance for employers,” Box said.

Supporting change

Discussing the reason for the launch of the campaign, Box explained: “We’re committed to safe working environments in which all employees are protected from discrimination and treated equally.

“Sadly, we know that a significant proportion of our members have faced discrimination, quite often race-related and perpetrated by patients, at some point in their careers,” she continued.

“The survey found that race discrimination was more prevalent than any other form” Box said. “So the campaign had a natural focal point, but sexism, religious and age-related discrimination were also reported widely, as were disability and pregnancy, so it was important that we didn’t exclude any of the Equality Act protected characteristics .”

We all have a duty to call out discrimination and tackle inequality - but for us as a membership organisation, that moral obligation goes further. We should be an advocate of change and support the enforcement of zero tolerance policies


Experiences shared by members also indicated that in most incidents it was patients who were “the perpetrators of discrimination.”

As a result, the campaign has focused on resources, such as practice posters, that help to foster a healthy environment and illustrate a zero tolerance approach to discrimination.

Citing recent research by the British Medical Association, Box highlighted that this is an issue experienced across medical professions and primary care providers.

The survey of more than 2000 doctors and medical students found that 67% of those surveyed had experienced at least one incident of racist behaviour in the past two years.

Just over 90% of black and Asian respondents, 73% of respondents with a mixed ethnicity, and 64% of white respondents believed racism in the medical profession was an issue.

“We all have a duty to call out discrimination and tackle inequality - but for us as a membership organisation, that moral obligation goes further,” Box commented. “We should be an advocate of change and support the enforcement of zero tolerance policies to ensure our members feel safe and protected in their workplace.”

The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the issue, and highlight AOP resources to support members. This is in addition to “working with employers to address problematic areas,” Box said.

With the campaign aiming to gather momentum through social media channels, the AOP has produced a suite of social media and digital assets to share online.

The AOP will also be working with traditional media to share the experiences of members affected by discrimination in the workplace.

More information and resources for employees and employers on the #100Respect campaign can be found on the AOP website.

Members who have experienced racism or discrimination at work are able to speak to the AOP’s anti-racism and equality team, who will be able to listen and provide emotional support. The AOP employment team can also advise on all forms of discrimination and help the member discuss their options.

The AOP’s Peer Support Line is open to members and non-members to discuss their problems with a trained peer. The confidential helpline is available on 0800 870 8401.