Diversity in Publishing Initiatives

Penguin Random House US released the results of company’s demographic analysis. CEO Madeline McIntosh says, “I don’t think any of us is likely to be surprised by the data, which show that our company, like our industry, is far too homogeneous. But seeing what we generally know to be true documented this way is hard: the distance we have to travel to become a truly diverse company feels all the more daunting when you look at the numbers…. Rather than feeling discouraged, I hope that you will instead join the commitment the board and I have made to making positive change happen…. Going forward, the goal is to have our company reflect the demographics of American society. It’s a simple goal, but one that will still take time to achieve.” Their staff is 79% white, 4% Black, 8% Hispanic, 7% percent Asian, and 2% percent bi- or multi-racial. The survey found “more racial diversity at junior levels,” and that “staff composition becomes less representative at leadership levels.”

Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch has also addressed diversity issues: “This is an incred­ibly important conversation, about a large number of significant goals. Some we can accomplish quickly, others will take concentrated efforts over years.” The company’s employees are reportedly 69% white, 4% percent Black, 18% Hispanic, 7% percent Asian, and 2% percent bi- or multi-racial. New hires are a bit more diverse, with employees onboarded in 2019 and 2020 only 61% white. The company leadership is 80% white. Hachette plans to hire a vice-president of diversity and inclusion, and has established Employee Resource Groups “to allow people to share experiences and make recommendations for improvements.”

Macmillan has hired LaToya Rose as their vice-president of diversity, equity, and inclusion, while HarperCollins brought in Gisselda Nuñez for the same role. Amanda Armstrong-Frank was promoted to a new position, “director of workplace culture and diversity initiatives,” at Simon & Schuster.

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) has appointed Jake Cumsky-Whitlock of Solid State Books in Washington DC and Melanie Knight of Books Inc. in San Francisco CA to the board, to serve until board elections in April 2021. This fol­lows changes to bylaws which “bring the number of board members to 13 (from 11) and that require the board to include at least four booksellers who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), at least two of whom are Black.” Cumsky-Whitlock and Knight will be eligible for full three-year terms during the upcoming election.

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