Tag Archives: Equip

Diversity in the Publishing Industry – a workshop

In September I attended a fantastic workshop on Diversity in the Publishing Industry, hosted by The Publishers Association, in association with EQUIP, Creative Skillset, and Creative Access.

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.

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Bobby Nayyar

Bobby Nayyar trained in publishing at Faber and Faber. He went on to join the marketing department at Little, Brown Book Group. In 2009, he founded his own publishing house, Limehouse Books. Since 2011, he has also been managing Equality in Publishing (Equip), which continues the project work of Dipnet. A top networker, a champion for the written word and a lovely chap to boot Bobby takes some time out of his busy schedule to answers some questions from me.

Bobby Nayyar

1. What is your most memorable achievement in your career and why?

The last four years of my life have been quite a roller coaster: leaving marketing great authors on the Abacus and Virago lists, setting up Limehouse Books, managing and developing Equality in Publishing – it’s hard to pick one memorable achievement, but the first that sprang to mind was the inaugural launch of Limehouse Books, which took place at The Minories by Tower Gateway. We launched two books that were put together with some sound and fury, a fantastic team effort and a launch with real energy and enthusiasm – a clear reminder why I set on this path in the first place.

2. Why do you think people invest the extraordinary levels of passion into publishing that they do?

Put simply it’s the belief that books made the world a brighter, better place.

3. You demonstrate a great deal of passion into promoting diversity and equality in the workplace. What gave you the impetus to get involved with Dipnet and then Equip?

Well, in part I am a product and beneficiary of the Dipnet initiative. In 2006 I did a diversity traineeship at Faber and Faber. It was a tremendous experience that laid a crucial foundation, which I still use as a publisher today. As part of the traineeship, Dipnet organised a mentor for me – Ellah Allfrey, now Deputy Editor of Granta. The mentoring was a crucial part of the process. Since that experience I had been following the progress of Dipnet, and when a work opportunity came up to manage the project, I pursued it with brio! I strongly believe in the values Equip promotes – widening access to the industry by creating opportunities for our business and individual members.

4. If you could travel five years back in time what advice would you give yourself?

Make lots of mistakes. Learn from them.

5. What advice would you give someone looking to find work in Publishing?

Join Equip – www.equalityinpublishing.org.uk

Make sure that they have a good profile on LinkedIn and Twitter

Make sure they have a great, well written CV with no typos

Find work that requires writing or other communication skills in their local area so they can demonstrate an interest in the industry and actually find out what it’s like

Read as much of the trade press (Bookseller etc) and try to understand the financial realities of the industry

And lastly if you could change the publishing industry overnight what single change would that be?

I would want that every new job going was advertised widely and beyond the publishers website and trade magazines. I’ve heard of instances where jobs are never advertised, rather circulated to contacts by email, and now I hear more of publishers advertising jobs through Twitter, which on the surface sounds like a great idea, but perhaps isn’t going to make the inroads to the industry reaching out further and wider.

Finally, I’d urge that people come to our next event on Thursday 21 March, 6pm at City University London. Details here:


And also for all people trying to get into the industry to fill out this survey:


A huge thank you to Bobby for taking the time to talk to us. I would urge you all to take a close look at what Equip are doing. Their ethics and overview of the publishing industry are something that Bobby, and Equip as a whole, are extremely passionate about. Equality across UK publishing, bookselling and agenting is fundamental in these changing times to access talent and performance far beyond present expectations. You can find Equip on Twitter @equip4 and Bobby Nayyar @bobbynayyar

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