Building on events and discussions following the publication of the Writing the Future report published by Spread The Word. The workshop aimed to provide case studies and discussions on how to increase diversity and equal access to employment in the industry.
Danuta Kean started the discussions with her eye opening findings from her research with Spread the Word, looking into the representation of BAME writers and employees within UK publishing. Danuta discovered during her research that the turbulent change affecting the UK book industry in the last 10 years has unfortunately had a negative impact on attempts to become more diverse. Her findings demonstrated that Black and Asian authors are struggling for representation in the UK and there is a marked absence of ethnic minorities within trade publishing houses.
There also followed thought provoking, themed discussions on unconscious bias and an interesting case study from Kate, a Commissioning Editor at Harper Collins who talked about her involvement in the Diversity Forum in the company. There was also a chance to hear from interns from Creative Access who were able to share their first hand experiences of employment in the publishing industry.
The day ended with a practical discussion looking at the main challenges to increasing diversity and the strategies publishers can use to build diversity. As a group we discussed ideas such as the importance of education within schools to highlight the diversity of careers within publishing, banning unpaid internships which discriminate those of lower socio economic groups, better monitoring and recording of figures regarding race gender and sexual orientation of employees and industry accreditations to applaud those who maintain a diverse workforce.
The fundamental idea from the day was that publishers must move away from a homogenised workforce and employ individuals at all levels who have an understanding of the diverse communities within the UK and this is ultimately the key to remaining relevant and profitable.