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D&I: how are we doing?

James Evelegh looks at what progress the publishing sector is making in its efforts to become more diverse and inclusive.

By James Evelegh

D&I: how are we doing?
Photograph: Visual Stories Micheile on Unsplash.

Q: How will we know when we as an industry are properly diverse and inclusive?

A: When we stop feeling the need to give awards for ‘diversity initiative of the year’.

We are not there yet.

OutThere magazine won ‘Diversity Initiative of the Year’ at last year’s PPA Independent Publishers Awards and has been shortlisted again this year. Editor-in-chief Uwern Jong told me in our latest podcast that the right approach to diversity is not to make it an initiative at all, but to ingrain best practice into the very fabric of a company.

He said that the publishing sector is making progress, but there’s still a long way to go.

Publishers serious about addressing the issue need to firstly recognise that there is a problem and assess the extent of it, secondly, come up with a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy, and, thirdly, err… put it into action. A whole company approach, now and forever.

Earlier this year, the PPA ran its first ‘Diversity & Inclusion Industry Survey’, which Uwern described as a good first step.

From the survey, two findings stood out for me:

  • 12% of respondents are from ethnic minorities (excluding White minorities) which is lower than the population of England and Wales (14% according to the 2011 Census - ONS)
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents’ (73%) primary household earner during their childhood held an ABC1 ‘middle-class’ occupation, which was significantly higher than the UK population (55%) and… the proportion of respondents from ABC1 ‘middle-class’ backgrounds increased with seniority.

We remain a predominantly white, middle-class industry. To become better companies and better publishers, who we are and what we produce needs to reflect the society we live in.

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