Penguin Random House has announced that it will pay half of the dues for a membership to PEN America for any member of its staff wishing to join the free speech organization by December 31, 2016.
In a letter to staff on Tuesday, PRH CEO Markus Dohle noted that "as devoted advocates of the free exchange of ideas and opinions through books, we are living in momentous times," and implored his staff to "stand together to both celebrate and protect the freedoms that make our work and success possible."
PEN America's executive director, Suzanne Nossel, called the move a "first-of-its-kind" arrangement. She added: "The U.S.'s thriving publishing industry rests on a foundation of protection for the open flow of words and ideas. We could not be more heartened and touched by Penguin Random House and CEO Markus Dohle's decision to affirm these core values and engage PRH's staff and authors more deeply in PEN America's work to protect free expression and ensure that marginalized voices can be heard."
For those employees who are already full members of PEN, Dohle wrote, PRH will donate half the amount of PEN membership dues to the organization in their names.