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Diversity of UK publishing workforce detailed in extensive survey

Diversity of UK publishing workforce detailed in extensive survey

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 PA 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 PA’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 PA engaged diversity and inclusion specialists Equal Approach to undertake the survey in 2018.

- ENDS -


Ruth Howells, Head of Communications, The Publishers Association
020 7089 5829 | 07827 089 058 |

To read the full report, download the pdf.

Notes to Editors
  1. Publishing Industry Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Survey 2018 is published on Friday 11th January 2019 and can be found here:
  2. Year on year comparisons between 2017 and 2018 in five areas are detailed in the report. 
  3. *Source for UK and London LGB references:
  4. **Source for UK population forecast for individuals that are gender nonconforming: Source: Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES) - 
  5. In total, 42 organisations took part in the Publishing Industry Workforce D&I Survey 2018, an increase of 82.6% from 23 in 2017. Data for 6,432 individuals were collected, which represents a 142.9% increase from 2,648 participants in 2017.
  6. As many organisations had already collected workforce D&I data, a dual process was developed to support both those organisations with existing data which could be submitted, and those that do not yet have a mechanism in place to collect workforce data to conduct this research through an online survey.
  7. The data on executive and senior leadership roles held by women was collected by the PA as a separate exercise to the survey conducted by Equal Approach.
  8. Inclusivity Action Plan:
Additional supporting quotes

Josie Dobrin, CEO of Creative Access, said: “Over the past seven years, we have found the publishing industry to be overwhelmingly supportive, encouraging access to the sector for young people from BAME and other hard to reach communities. Led by a strong trade association, there are now more possibilities than ever to enter the sector; from apprenticeships, to internships and paid work experience opportunities. Creative Access is proud to have worked with more than 40 publishing organisations across the UK, placing over 250 interns into publishing roles – most of whom are still in the sector. 

“There is however still a way to go for the publishing industry to reflect the population at large; and these survey results reflect this. We know that one of the main reasons why young people from BAME backgrounds choose not to enter the profession is because they don’t see others who look like them in senior positions. Retention is key. The industry has a job to do to make sure that the sector is not only welcoming in the first instance, but allows entrants to flourish and progress through individual organisations and the sector itself. We look forward to taking on this challenge in partnership with the Publishers Association and wider industry.” 

Ben Runcorn, Commercial and Marketing Manager at Equal Approach, said: “We were delighted to have been selected by the Publishers Association to conduct the Publishing Industry Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Survey 2018. We were really impressed by the level of participation in this year’s survey, with an 82.6% increase in the number of organisations taking part from 2017, which is testament to the work that the PA is doing to encourage the industry to address diversity and inclusion, and shows that organisations have this topic on their agenda. 

“While there is still some way to go in addressing diversity and inclusion within the publishing industry, this survey has shown that there is a great deal of diversity within those organisations taking part, which should be celebrated. This survey will act as a benchmark for the industry to measure progress against in the coming years, and can be used by organisations to compare their own performance. Thank you to all of the organisations that participated, we hope to continue working with the PA to support them to embed inclusion within the industry.”