The third edition of Lee & Low Books’ quadrennial “Diversity Baseline Survey” found that the publishing industry has made incremental gains in broadening its workforce since the survey was introduced in 2015.

The survey’s top-line findings show that white people made up 72.5% of this year’s 8,644 respondents, down from 76% in 2019 and 79% in 2015. Those identifying as biracial/multiracial were the second largest group, at 8.3%—a significant increase over the 3% in 2019 who identified as biracial/multiracial. The percentage of respondents who were Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander/South Asian/Southeast Indian rose slightly, to almost 8%, from 7% in 2019. Black respondents held even at about 5% of the publishing workforce, while those identifying as Hispanic/Latino/Mexican fell to 4.6%, from 6% in both 2019 and 2015.

In its introduction, Lee & Low speculated that a change in hiring practices by the publishing industry may help to account for the change in the racial makeup of the industry. It also noted, however, that the most recent survey went out to a much larger participant pool than previous surveys, which resulted in more varied responses. In addition, the 2023 survey came following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, which spurred, in part, a renewed commitment to addressing industrywide issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Cis women continued to dominate the industry’s ranks at 71% of all respondents, down from 74% in 2019. Cis men made up 21% of 2023 respondents, down from 23% four years ago. The small number of respondents identifying as genderfluid, nonbinary, or genderqueer means that publishers need to “take extra care with stories for this community,” Lee & Low said. The percentage of disabled people in the industry increased to 16.5% in the most recent survey, up from 11% in 2019.

The 2023 "Diversity Baseline Survey" questionnaire was sent to 2,591 reviewer employees, 1,860 university press employees, 597 literary agents, and 18,972 trade publishing employees, and had a response rate of 36%. Lee & Low said that the response rate and total number or participants has increased significantly over the years. The survey results were analyzed and aggregated by a small team at Boston University to ensure the anonymity of individual respondents, and the members of the BU team were the only ones with access to the raw data.

The full survey provides a much more granular look at different aspects of the make up of the industry across a host of different categories. It can be read here. Results of PW's own 2023 salary survey, which can be read here, are generally in line with the Lee & Low report, though it only goes to employees who work at publishing houses and has a significantly lower number of respondents.

Eighty-one percent of respondents to PW’s 2023 survey were white, down from 83% in 2022’s survey. Hispanic representation rose from 5% to 6%, and 5% of respondents identified as Asian, up from 4%. Women’s share of the workforce was 77%, which was even with the prior year, but the share of male respondents fell two percentage points, to 18%. The percentage of respondents who identified as nonbinary rose to 5% from 3%.