Diversity of UK publishing workforce detailed in extensive survey

AcademicConsumerEducationPress Release

The number of women in senior leadership roles, representation of LGBT+ staff and representation of disabled staff are all high within publishing, finds the most comprehensive survey ever conducted of the UK publishing workforce.

However, despite positive results in many areas significant progress still needs to be made around the numbers of BAME staff employed and improving regional diversity across the industry.

The survey is the second of its kind, with the first in 2017 being used as the basis for the Publishers Association’s 10-point Inclusivity Action Plan and two related five-year targets – which aim for at least 50% of leadership positions and executive level roles to be occupied by women and 15% of publishing employees to be BAME by 2022.

As part of the Plan, a commitment was made to undertake an annual survey every year for the next five years and use this information to help effectively focus inclusivity work.

Key findings of the 2018 survey include:

  • 54% of senior leadership and executive level roles were held by women (56% in senior leadership roles and 48% at executive level)
  • 11.6% of respondents identified as BAME
  • 8.2% of individuals identified as LGB, which is more than four times that of the estimated UK population (2%) and just over three times that of the estimated London population (2.7%)*
  • 0.6% of respondents identified as transgender with a further 0.8% of respondents preferring another term. Combined, this is higher than the UK population forecast for individuals that are gender nonconforming (1.4% vs 1%)**
  • 5.4% of respondents identified as having a disability or impairment and 25.5% of those who stated their type of disability identified as having a mental health condition

Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association, said:

“This year’s survey provides us with the most comprehensive data on diversity and inclusion that we’ve ever had. It’s encouraging that so many in the industry are now taking part and reflects the increasing desire for accurate benchmarks which future progress can be measured against. 

“While the data does show some progress is being made, we should not shy away from the fact there are still some key areas where much more needs to be done.

“There is common recognition amongst publishers of the importance of diversity and inclusion issues and the Publishers Association is committed to this work in the longer term, in terms of further developing the survey and our broader work, to help the industry identify and direct their action on inclusivity.”

The Publishers Association’s inclusivity work in 2019 will focus on three core areas, with a new Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce convened to help direct and advise on this programme of work.

Recruitment, retention and development of BAME staff

Including employee-focused roadshows in partnership with Creative Access across a range of geographical locations and training workshops.

Regional diversity

Including regional workshops in partnership with the Northern Fiction Alliance, publishing courses held outside of London and the South East, publishing ambassador presentations and careers talks, support of the Spare Room Project.

Disability/Mental Health

Including a series of training workshops on managing mental health in the workplace and mental health first aid, supporting industry-wide activity around Mental Health Awareness Week in 2019.

The survey findings are based on data collected from 42 publishing companies of varying sizes across academic, education and consumer publishing. Company participation increased by 82.6% and the number of employees surveyed more than doubled in 2018 (increasing by 142.9%), giving a much more comprehensive picture overall – but making year-on-year comparisons difficult.

The Publishers Association engaged diversity and inclusion specialists Equal Approach to undertake the survey in 2018.