Tobi Olakojo shares his real – life story on a recent experience and we would want to know your take in the comment section.

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Last week, I was attending the 12th edition of “The Panel”- an annual retail conference for community pharmacists in Nigeria – and the convener thought to award Pharmacists whom they have found to have distinguished themselves in their place of practice even though they are just employees of the brand they work for. Many of them were said to have worked like they own the premises where they work and have managed the business effectively with or without the input of their employers.

As I watched keenly from my device, I realised that three of the four names called out were females, then a thought came to my mind; are there not diligent male Pharmacists? Then I quickly shrug it off with the excuse that there are probably not many male folks in community pharmacy practice except they own the business.

Few days later, I had another experience that made me view from another vantage point. As I walked into a musical store (Oh! I’m into sound production and audio mixing too) that I have been patronising for years of which I am aware of the staff turn-over; I was not surprised at seeing a new set of staff. However, strangely this time around, they were all ladies.

I thought to myself, who puts an all- female staff to sell or provide services in a place like this? How are they supposed to carry the heavy amplifiers, speakers or drums when a customer makes purchase? Interestingly, I wanted to check a cordless microphone and my choice of mic was placed very high up, no one could reach there. The ladies could not climb, so the Director (who looked like someone in his 50s or early 60s) got a ladder and climbed to get me the product.

Again, I said to myself, what if he was not around? Why is this man stressing himself? How will you employ ladies only in this kind of business? I didn’t buy the product because I was short of fund but I bought something else; a small cable of N1800, I handed the lady 2 pieces of N1000 note and she issued a receipt and gave me the balance in the presence of her boss. But amazingly, she came back to me to beg for the N200 balance and the rest is history.

As I drove off, I wondered why everyone now seeks to outsmart the next person, either the company you work for or the clients that patronizes you. How have we diminished in character that we no longer uphold values?

Today, I visited the same place to purchase the microphone, initially the Director was not around and when they needed to pick the product from its location in the store, they beckoned on two men sitting outside and one of them eventually assisted. Then I realized that the Director employed those two men (though unlearned and perhaps a cheaper labor) to carry out the heavy-duty tasks in the store. While I was waiting to get the product tested for me, the Director arrived and I engaged him in a conversation out of curiosity as to why he had only ladies as his sales assistants. He responded, “my brother those boys are fraud, despite measures we put in place, they defy them to perpetrate their unscrupulous acts, so I thought the ladies will be soft-hearted and still have conscience before trying anything funny”.

I shook my head thinking if he only he knew that the one he has gotten as replacement is here for personal gains. The value of what the product I’m buying today is high and I could not have come with cash, I did mobile app transfer, thus no balance to give out this time but I was still accosted with “Uncle, anything for the girls….?”

The point of the whole story is this:

-Either male or female, uphold the right values and live by them. Let your values be the driving force behind your actions, know the red lines and develop a healthy work culture. The economy is in a mess at the moment, prices are not even encouraging for the seller and the purchasing power of the buyer is low.

– Do not be the reason your organisation will be experiencing low patronage.  Values drive behaviour and they provide a litmus test by which decisions are made. If personal values are not aligned to company values, it will have a negative impact on the business. Money, they say makes the world go round.

– Not adhering to values is an ultimate damage to any brand. Enough said!

I’ll just end it with a quote from Elvis Presley: “Values are like fingerprints; nobody’s are the same but you leave them all over everything you do.

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