Hachette Book Group made progress in diversifying its workforce and book acquisitions in 2020, but CEO Michael Pietsch acknowledged that there is much more work to be done.
According to the publisher’s second annual diversity update report, 47.8% of new hires in 2020 identified as BIPOC, led by the recruitment of new Hispanic/Latinx employees, who represented 37.5% of all new staffers. With the new diversity effort, white people now account for 67.1% of HBG's total workforce, down from 69% in 2019. (For the 2020 report, HBG began measuring its diversity levels by one-tenth of a percentage point.) Hispanic/Latinx staffers now represent 20% of HBG’s workforce, according to the report, followed by Asian employees (6.7%) and Black staffers (3.9%).
BIPOC authors and illustrators represented 29% of new contracts signed by HBG in 2020, compared to 22% in 2019. HBG said that title acquisition metrics for each publishing division will be expanded for future years.
“It has been very encouraging to see the level of engagement, urgency, and collaboration throughout HBG,” Pietsch said in a statement accompanying the release of the report. “At the same time, we recognize that there is still a huge amount of work ahead. We are committed to making meaningful progress toward our goals and working together to create a workplace and publishing programs that reflect the diversity of the nation of readers we want to publish for.”
The report said that, in addition to expanding its outreach to recruit more BIPOC employees, HBG has promoted more people of color to higher positions. The largest gain came in the senior managers category, which HBG defines as director and above. (White people still accounted for 79.5% of all senior managers.) Among HBG’s new hires was Carrie Bloxson, who joined HBG on February 1 as v-p of diversity and inclusion, and who is a member of the executive management board.
In an effort to retain more BIPOC and other marginalized employees, HBG formed seven employee resource groups, to allow employees to share experiences and make recommendations for improvements. The company also raised its starting salary to $45,000 in areas where the cost of living is the most expensive, as part of its drive to make its hiring practices more inclusive.
At the publishing level, the publisher launched HBG Legacy Lit, a new imprint led by v-p and publisher Krishan Trotman. The company has also established new "principles, guidelines, and resources to ensure that our marketing efforts represent the diversity of our authors and reach all readers.”
HBG began diversity audits of its workforce and book acquisitions last year, and is reporting those findings to its staff on an annual basis.