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Report highlights shocking lack of diversity in publishing

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A report published last week revealed a shocking lack of diversity within the British publishing industry at employee and managerial level.

The Diversity in Publishing Report is the first such quantitative piece of research, comprehensively establishing that publishing companies need to do much more to attract a more diverse workforce. It is likely to add pressure on companies to review their hiring practices.

Focusing on the capital, the report shows that while 28.8% of the working population of London are Black or Minority Ethnic (BME), only 7.7% of those working in publishing are from a non-white background.

Even worse, only 4% of editorial staff were found to be from a BME background. Editors are responsible for commissioning and editing books that end up on bookshelves. Only 3% of senior managers were found to be of non-white origin.

Sean Merrigan from Diversity in Publishing Network said: “Whilst the moral and commercial reasons for greater ethnic diversity in publishing have never been so evident, this research proves that there is still a long way to go before the industry is truly representative of the culture it serves.”

“Many publishers are already making diversity a core concern, but across the board there is inconsistency and a lack of confidence about how to deal effectively with these issues.”

“DIPNet, with the Publishing Association support, aims to promote this report as a call to the publishing world to take a positive, active role in shaping its future, recognising the benefits of a diverse workforce for both the industry and for consumers.”

There are worries that without a culturally diverse set of staff sourcing and mentoring new writers, non-white voices will struggle to be heard and Britain’s diversity will not be reflected in its books.

The report expands on the findings of earlier findings in 2004. A study published by The Bookseller magazine then titled ‘In Full Colour: Cultural Diversity in Book Publishing Today’ provided an illustration of opinions relating to diversity in publishing without any statistics to provide a better understanding.

The Diversity in Publishing Network subsequently commissioned Book Marketing Limited (BML) to undertake quantitative research into the area to complement the earlier research.

Results from the latest report also show positive trends, indicating that recent initiatives to improve diversity in the industry is having a positive impact on recruitment. The largest proportion of BME staff surveyed had been in the industry for less than two years.

The Publishers Association (PA) said it was supportive of the report and its findings, and encouraged its members to be more active recruiting diverse talent.