Macmillan Publishing's trade group will establish a new 13-member "trade management committee" to set goals and objectives for all publishers, divisions, and departments under its purview, the company announced in two letters to staff on Monday, one from CEO John Sargent and another from president Don Weisberg and COO Andrew Weber. The new management team will set company-wide goals and objectives, though the publishing houses will remain as independent companies, and the publishers will continue to report directly to Weisberg. As for his role, Sargent said he will "step back from day-to-day management to make room for new voices" in the U.S. trade publishing operation, although he will remain in charge of the overall Macmillan global businesses. Macmillan's college operations are not part of the new initiative.

The move is the most significant to date at Macmillan to address issues of diversity and representation in the publishing business, and comes two weeks after an industry-wide collective action protesting racism initially organized by five Macmillan employees took place (an action on which the publisher declined to comment). In their letter, Weisberg and Weber wrote: "We need to change as a company. We need more diversity in the titles we publish, more committed positioning and marketing of these titles, more hiring and promotion of diverse staff, more inclusivity in the decision-making process, and more open dialogue throughout the organization." A title audit, a Macmillan representative said, already began four months ago.

The committee, in addition to Weisberg and Weber, will include 11 members from across the company's publishing, operations, and human resources divisions: Guy Browning, Malati Chavali, Erin Coffey, Sonali Goel, Jenn Gonzalez, Helaine Ohl, Leslie Padgett, Dan Schwartz, Natasha Taylor, Jon Yaged, and a new head of diversity and inclusion, who will report directly to Weber. Its first meeting is this week.

"The committee will form a different and more inclusive management team, representing a wider range of experiences. This will be an exercise in changing power dynamics, and in making sure we have diverse perspectives in the decision-making process," Sargent wrote in his letter, adding: "This level of change is difficult, but I believe it is necessary."

Four of the new committee members have also been promoted. Gonzalez has been promoted to president of sales; Schwartz has been promoted to the newly created position of executive v-p of finance, strategy, and analytics; Chavali is now senior v-p of publishing strategy and initiatives; and Coffey has been promoted to senior v-p of communication and events. All but Schwartz will report solely Weisberg; Schwartz will report to both Weisberg and Weber.