Publishers Association Launches Inclusivity Action Plan
By Julia Fitzpatrick
On 31 January 2023, the Publishers Association announced the launch of a new Inclusivity Action Plan to foster equality, diversity and inclusion within the publishing industry. The initiative, which has been developed in collaboration with Creative Access, builds on an earlier inclusivity plan launched in 2017. It aims to foster workplaces which are genuine reflections of national demographics in terms of race and ethnicity, socio-economic background, disability, gender and sexual orientation. The initiative is structured into ten commitments which publishing houses should undertake over the next three years:
1. Businesses should devise concrete inclusivity policies which are driven by senior leadership.
2. They should also develop governance models to ensure their business is held accountable for meeting targets and implementing policies.
3. They should commit to data collection to measure demographics and track representation in the industry.
4. They should devise output (content, design, imagery and language) which is accessible, authentic and inclusive.
5. They should require all staff to participate in inclusivity training and provide education on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.
6. They should support employees with different working needs by providing opportunities for flexible, hybrid, agile and part-time working.
7. They should create clear career progression pathways so that employees are aware of what they need to do to reach the next level in their careers.
8. They should provide opportunities for mentoring to support staff from under-represented backgrounds.
9. They should hire employees from under-represented groups, widening access to the industry.
10. They should work towards pay equity and be transparent about salaries.
The Publishers Association developed their Inclusivity Action Plan alongside last year’s survey on “diversity, inclusion and belonging” in the publishing workforce. Its findings suggested that whilst progress has been made in some areas, there is still considerable work to be done. The survey found that representation of ethnic minorities and LGBTQIA+ people had increased (to 17% and 15% of the workforce respectively). It also revealed that a majority of executive leadership and senior management positions in the publishing sector are held by women. Nevertheless, the survey showed that there are still significant barriers to inclusion in the industry, particularly for individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds (who made up only 22% of respondents).
The Inclusivity Action Plan has twenty-one founding signatories, including major publishing houses such as Penguin Random House, Hachette UK, Bloomsbury, HarperCollins and Cambridge University Press. Publishing houses which have not yet signed on are encouraged to pledge their commitment here.