Diversity, inclusion, women in leadership, acceptance of religious and cultural difference have been such hot topics in the run up to this year that Forbes confidently predicted they would be a priority in 2016. To this end, they were given center stage at the Building Inclusivity in Publishing conference held in November in London (UK).
Delegates were treated to a networking event that allowed them to briefly put aside their day-to-day publishing roles and consider the industry as a whole. The result left attendees feeling inspired and empowered that the industry is a platform for diversity and inclusion.
Speaking about the conference, Perminder Mann, CEO of Kings Road Publishing, says: “We must attract more authors and illustrators from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) backgrounds so that stories are told from first-hand experience. BAME communities have evolved over the past few years and many of the stereotypes held, no longer exist… through books we inform society, and the more informed we are, the more empathetic we become.”
This is also true for every segment of the publishing world. And it is one of the reasons why the UK’s Publishing Association has launched an ‘Inclusivity in Publishing’ award to recognize this commitment to greater diversity across the industry; from those making publishing decisions, to editors working with BAME authors, to board room representatives and those devising marketing strategies.
Crystal Mahey-Morgan, Founder of OWN IT !, notes that while the unconscious bias to ‘hire in your own image’ has already been challenged successfully through entry-level schemes, more needs to be done at decision-making levels. Citing BAME writer Robyn Travis’ first book as an example, she notes that publishers are often told that certain types of books aren’t commercially viable – yet only a month after publication, Travis’ work was proving so popular that reprints had to be ordered. In fact, the book launch event itself held in a large night club venue in the capital had sold out in advance. Not only is there clearly a demand but there is a rich, new variety of creative voices to supply that demand.
How fantastic then, that publishing has the ability to reflect the diversity of today’s society, to present so many life experiences, so many views and so many voices. Not simply through the creative works but through publishing’s operations so that everyone, at every level of the industry, is included and can make a difference.
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