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Industry Insights with Lexi and Rory from Pride at HarperCollins

By Karoline Tübben, Aimee Whittle and Zahra Islam


This week, Lexi and Rory from the Pride Network at HarperCollins shared with us what it has been like to set up and run the network…


Why was the Pride at HC network created? How did you find the process of setting it up at such a large company like HarperCollins?


Lexi: “To put it simply, the network was founded because there was a gap in the roster of existing employee networks that we were eager to fill. We wanted to build a community for our LGBTQIA+ colleagues that would help foster professional connections and enable everyone to feel like they could be themselves in the workplace, no matter their sexuality or gender identity. In addition, we wanted to provide a space in which issues and opportunities that directly affected the community could be discussed in a safe, committed way, whilst also giving allies the opportunity to proactively support their LGBTQIA+ colleagues.


As HarperCollins is such a large company, there was already a dedicated process in place for setting up an employee network, which definitely made things easier. The People Team supported us right from the start, too. Even little things like sharing existing template documents were useful, as they helped us focus our thinking from the very beginning.”


What does a typical day in the office look like when you’re working on Pride at HC?


Rory: “We work on lots of different things for Pride at HC during the week in addition to doing our jobs, such as creating agendas for our next network meeting, drawing up plans for future events, and brainstorming ideas on how to build awareness of the network’s existence. One of those ideas was to introduce Pride at HC lanyards, which we accomplished earlier this year. This has helped to increase visibility of the LGBTQ+ community across the HarperCollins offices and foster a sense of belonging. We want to make sure people are aware of the network and what we’re working on throughout the year, beyond Pride Month, so we’re always trying to think of new things to try with our members.”


What do you feel has been the most significant impact of the pride network?


Lexi: “I think it would have to be the community building that we’re doing with the network. HarperCollins is spread out across multiple sites in the UK and Ireland, and we’re thrilled to be helping members of the community connect with each other while promoting inclusion at work. We’re also marching at Pride in London this year, which we’re incredibly excited about. Being involved with something so public is a real turning point for the network and marks the first key, externally facing piece of awareness-building that we’ve done. We’re both really proud of having made this happen and we hope to expand our presence to other Pride marches across the UK and Ireland to ensure staff at other office locations can show their support more locally.”


What are your goals for the network? What progression are you hoping to see within the next few years?


Rory: “When we first set up Pride at HC, our goals were to create a safe and supportive community, and to spread the word across HarperCollins. We’ve started to see the impact of our work so far and we are also developing some new goals thinking of the future of the network. Over the next few years, we’re hoping to start organising bigger, more ambitious events for our members, that also incorporates our wide range of LGBTQIA+ publishing. We’d also like to look at expanding the public-facing element of the network in several ways to promote our activity, potentially through social media, so that people know HarperCollins is an inclusive and welcoming place to work.”


Can you tell us about a project Pride at HC is currently working on and what you find most exciting about it?


Lexi: “We’re currently working on expanding the Pride at HC network committee, which is an exciting project! We’ve really increased the membership over the past six months and are now at around sixty-five members, which is wonderful. With that number of people, more admin and creative support is needed, so we’re currently recruiting for two new committee members. We’re both excited about bringing fresh perspectives to the network as we begin to revisit our strategy for the year ahead over the summer.


What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone wanting to set up something similar?


Rory: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice and talk to lots of people! Getting in touch with people who’ve set up other network groups would be a great place to start, as they could help give you some direction. They wouldn’t have to be LGBTQIA+ network groups at other publishers – although of course they’d be great options – but any network group that you know of would be useful.”



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