Diversity in Publishing: What Still Needs to Change
By Charlotte Brook
Based on the Publishers Association’s latest annual workforce survey, in which sixty businesses and over 14,000 employees took part, it appears some progress towards diversity has been made, namely in the increase of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups in the industry workforce from 13%, where it stalled for the past three years, to 15% which meets the 2022 goal. However, there is still a long way to go for the inclusivity of the industry.
The survey reveals that socio-economic background continues to present a major barrier to inclusion with around two-thirds of respondents (67%) being from professional backgrounds, only 12% from intermediate socio-economic backgrounds and 21% from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
Furthermore, while some of the big five publishing companies have been moving towards having regional offices, such as HarperCollins and Hachette, regional diversity still remains stark. Which, for Northern publishing hopefuls, hugely limits the accessibility of the industry without packing up and moving south. In fact, more than three quarters of those surveyed either live in London (49%) or the South-East (31%), yet from that, those who grew up in those areas are only 17% and 23% respectively.
Positively, disability representation has increased from just 2% in 2017 to 13% in 2021 and the same for LGBTQ+ representation which has also increased to 13% from just 5% in 2017.
Also, publishing continues to be a largely female-driven industry with over half of those in executive leadership (52%) and management (56%) positions being women.
However, while the publishing workforce may, for now, be concentrated in the South and crucial steps towards diversity still need to be made, many publishers have great initiatives in place to strive for inclusivity, offering work experience exclusively to those from BAME groups or lower socio-economic backgrounds, such as
Penguin Random House’s The Scheme – a six-month paid traineeship with eighteen places up for grabs gaining experience of Editorial, Publicity or Sales! The Scheme starts in September and applications close on the 16 May.
Faber’s BAME Internship – Faber have created a bursary for a twenty-week internship for a person from a BAME background, set to begin in September so keep an eye out for applications opening!
Or sign up to Creative Access to see job opportunities within publishing open exclusively to underrepresented groups under their Positive Action Scheme!
Read the full Publishers Association report here.