Following through on its pledge made in June 2020 to audit the diversity of its contributors, Penguin Random House’s initial report found that the demographics of its authors, illustrators, translators, and other creators “do not reflect U.S. reader demographics when it comes to race and ethnicity.”
White contributors accounted for 76% of books released in the 2019-2021 period, significantly higher than the 60% white people comprise in the U.S. general population. The 76% share, however, as PRH noted, correlates closely to the 74% mark that white people represent in the PRH workforce. Advocates pushing for publishers to diversify their workforce have long argued that publishers’ list will only become more diverse after they diversify their workforce.
Latinx contributors were the most underrepresented on PRH’s list, accounting for 5.1% of all contributors despite being 18.5% of the U.S. population. Black contributors accounted for 6.1% of all creatives, while accounting for 12.2% of the population. Asian contributors represented 6.9% of PRH’s creatives, slightly higher than the 5.6% of the population Asians comprise.
Other results from the survey found that women accounted for 61% of contributors, while 34% were men; 79% percent were “not LGBTQ,” 16% were LGBTQ, and 5% of respondents preferred not to say. The statistics were compiled from 3,415 responses from contributors to a PRH survey, which asked them to self-identify—an approach PRH said it will use in future surveys, though it acknowledged that self-identification is nuanced and can change over time.
PRH said it will use “phase one” of the ongoing audit process as a baseline to make its roster of contributors more reflective of the American population. Acknowledging that the publishing process won’t make the transition to a more diverse list a quick one, PRH said it is committed to accelerating its efforts to broaden the diversity of its contributors and to root out systemic barriers to entry that have created the imbalance of its contributors compared to the U.S. population.
All the steps that PRH is taking to diversify its contributors roster can be found here.