With the issues surrounding Oscars nominations bringing the lack of diversity in Hollywood to center stage, it’s interesting to note that the publishing industry isn’t much better off. The systematic problem of minority representation in this industry came to light when Publisher’s Weekly‘s 2014 salary survey statistics reflected dismal numbers in terms of diversity. Jason Low of Lee & Low Books began a petition requesting publishers across North America to be transparent about the demographic of their employees.
Lee & Low Books spent 2015 gathering data to compile the first Diversity Baseline Survey, which showcases the lack of minority representatives throughout the industry within various levels “including executive, editorial, sales, marketing & publicity, and book reviews.” The survey received responses from “8 review journals and 34 publishers” including Fortune 500 and independent ones from giant Penguin Random House to indie Arte Público Press, who also supported the petition that Low had created.
Overall 92% of people identify as not differently abled, 88% identify as heterosexual, and 79% identify as Caucasian (though there are aspects of ambiguity to those who may not feel that Caucasian may be the right way to identify themselves). Also, 98.7% identified as cis-gendered (the gender they were assigned at birth) noting that there’s also a lack of transgender and gender-fluid representation within publishing companies. While those who participated reflected a majority of women over men, even in the executive level women represented 59% of this segment, the data Lee & Low provides confirms that publishing, long considered a very liberal industry, is not well representative of the larger U.S. community. One example of which is Latino/Hispanic representation accounting for 6% of the industry, yet as per 2015 statistics Latinos/Hispanics represent 17% (or about 55 million) of the U.S. population.
The problem of diversity is not one that can be solved by diverse people alone, but by everyone. Knowing where the topic currently stands and establishing a baseline was the first step. Hopefully, this baseline will spark more “Diversity 102” conversations to discuss what initiatives publishers can take in the future.
Read more here.