Almost three months after their annual mid-year meeting and five months since nationwide protests reemphasized industries’ need for diversity, Hachette Books Group has released a diversity and inclusion progress report detailing internal and external commitments to diversity along five separate categories. According to the report, which was released to employees on September 8, each initiative is intended to achieve an HBG goal of increasing the number of people of color employed by the companym as well as making “measurable improvements” to company culture and community service.
“As a leading book publisher, we believe that including and representing diverse voices in all aspects of our business is fundamental to what we do,” reads the company’s new commitment to diversity statement. “Our staff and our publishing programs must reflect the broad range of backgrounds, experiences, and ideas that shape our society. We are committed to working together and with all our partners to foster diversity and a culture of inclusion, so that HBG can provide a truly welcoming and fulfilling environment for all employees and publish books that appeal to all readers.”
While the diversity and inclusion progress report shows HBG “stands committed to diversity,” its current staff fails to represent the diversity percentages present in the country. “The outpouring of fed-up rage and protests and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement represent an extraordinary moment, or series of moments, that have brought a serious reckoning across our industry—and here at HBG—about our diverse representation,” said HBG CEO Michael Pietsch in a June 30 staff meeting detailing HBG’s future steps toward inclusion. "I’m very proud of the antiracist books that HBG has published in past years, and we can applaud the editors and publishers who have been doing that important work. And we can thank our HR teams and individuals who have worked hard on outreach, recruiting, and other ways of increasing the diversity of our applicant pools. But I’ve had to acknowledge to you all, that the work we have done has not led to the results we want. We don’t have nearly sufficient diversity at HBG.”
According to its statistics, HBG’s U.S.-based workforce is 69% white, with Hispanic staffers making up only 18% of all employees, and Black and Asian workers accounting for 4% and 7%, respectively, of all employees. In the mid-year meeting, Pietsch also noted that the lack of diversity was most apparent at the senior management level, where 80% of executives are white. New hires in the 2019-20 period have been 61% white, and 69% white at the senior management level.
To further diversify its workforce, HBG is creating and identifying new sources of recruitment, including partnerships with such institutions as historically black colleges and universities, as well as with LGBTQ+ recruiters. The company will also expand search areas for positions that can be completed remotely, and begin a search for a v-p of diversity and inclusion, a newly created executive management position.
Throughout the report, HBG made it clear that all its initiatives were created with input from current company staffers through focus groups and anonymous suggestions. HBG will also add unconscious bias and micro-aggression awareness training to its diversity and inclusion training.
While HBG's anti-racist titles have drawn lots of attention in recent months, the publisher's audit of its publishing programs found that only 22% of its new 2019 authors and illustrators were people of color. HBG plans to “broaden its publishing lists” by investigating new imprints, programs, and accurate consumer marketing; however, concrete projects have yet to be announced. The report also includes commitments to social and community initiatives, including donations of anti-racist reads and book from authors of color to school libraries, increased relationships with minority-owned businesses, and monetary donations to social justice organizations such as Black Lives Matter, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy organization.
“Throughout the summer I’ve been working with HR, division and department heads, and interested individuals across the company to come up with an appropriate set of actions and approaches to increase the number of persons of color at HBG and to make us an overall more inclusive company,” Pietsch wrote in a company-wide statement. “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. I appreciate your engagement and your commitment to helping us change HBG for the better.”
Donations to School Libraries Announced
In a separate announcement, HBG has launched a program to provide select elementary and secondary school libraries across the country with a collection of books that provide resources to students to learn about the importance of anti-racism, empathy, and social justice. Under the program, HBG is donating 10,000 physical books and 20,000 e-books and audiobooks on topics of race, anti-racism, equality, and identity, partnering with Follett for the physical book distribution and OverDrive Education for digital distribution.