Publishers appear to have responded to calls last year to increase their diversity efforts as part of a national outcry for social justice reforms. Seventy-five percent of the 404 employees at publishing companies who responded to a PW survey on workplace and diversity changes said their company had increased their diversity programs in the last 12 months. (Survey results on workplace policies ran in the December 21 issue of PW.) In general, the larger the publisher, the more likely the company had made a change to its diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. Fifty percent of employees who work at companies with sales of under $1 million said their company had instituted some form of greater DEI efforts, while more than 90% of staffers at companies with revenue of more than $100 million said their company had broadened the scope of their DEI programs. The survey was conducted online between November 10 and December 1. (Responses were from individual employees and were not grouped by company.)

Just under half (49%) of respondents who work at publishers that have added DEI initiatives think those programs will help bring change to the industry, while 38% said they didn’t know. Only 13% said they thought the new actions would lead to no real change.

Asked to give examples of new or greater DEI efforts begun by their company, the most frequently cited actions fell into a number of general categories.

Broadening recruitment efforts to attract more BIPOC employee candidates

● Expanding outreach at HBCUs

● Offering more remote internships and work opportunities

● Hiring more BIPOC freelancers and contractors

● Changing wording on job descriptions to eliminate bias

● Establishing dedicated BIPOC internships and fellowships

Raising awareness of the importance of DEI

● Hiring executive to oversee companywide DEI initiatives

● Forming DEI committees within different departments

Holding companywide training and educational workshops and town hall meetings

● Adding a retail manager to work with BIPOC-owned stores

Adding diverse authors

● Auditing author demographics

● Starting BIPOC imprints

● Increasing marketing support for BIPOC titles

● Partnering with new organizations to find new voices

Raising entry-level salaries

Sample comments from respondents:

“We’ve hired a v-p of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as a sales and marketing specialist focused on diversity. We’ve offered anti-racism training. We’ve allocated extra budget for marketing campaigns for BIPOC titles.”

“We’ve had a huge uptick in activity after hiring a manager of inclusion and diversity. There are many employee resource groups for race, disability, sexual identity. Our CEO is a champion of inclusion and diversity, and there is a growing inclusive culture in our company.”

“We are examining the backlist to identify and address titles with content that is offensive or noninclusive; we have created employee resource groups for various cultural groups.”

“We’ve analyzed our title lists across imprints and pinpointed our weaknesses in terms of gender and race demographics.”

“We’ve instituted companywide anti-racist reading and group discussions, as well as new anti-discrimination and harassment training programs required for all employees.”

“I am on newly formed Diversity Councils and Diverse Employee Resource Groups that are doing fantastic work!”

“Hired a DEI officer. Not much else, alas.”