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We’ve had a heatwave here in NYC and I thought I might have pink eye but now I suspect I’ve just been sitting in front of the fan too long! My eyes are dry and I’m ready for a LONG nap but wanted to share some links with you before I hit the couch. My essay,Navigating the Great White North: Representing Blackness in Canadian YA Literature,” has been published in The Centennial Reader. Not sure where they got that video of the sad black girl reading a book, but I guess it’s a nice touch!

The Summer Blog Blast Tour is on, and Doret’s got some great interviews over at The Happy Nappy Bookseller—be sure to stop by and learn more about Neesha Meminger (Jazz in Love) and Ashley Hope Perez (What Can’t Wait). You can find the complete schedule of participating authors and bloggers at Chasing Ray.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jacqueline Woodson this morning—and THIS time, I made sure I had plenty of batteries. We talked for an hour and I can’t wait to transcribe the footage; stay tuned for a link to the interview once it’s posted on the Ms. Magazine blog (extras to be posted here).

Lastly, after two years of un-/under-/self-employment, I accepted a new position today that will enable me to teach in my field AND stay in my beloved Brooklyn! I also got invited to serve as moderator on a YA panel at the Brooklyn Book Festival…more on that to come. Time for a little shuteye.

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I have to begin with this beautiful trailer for Navjot Kaur’s latest book, Dreams of Hope:

Yes, there’s a place for books like Go the F*** to Sleep (though I don’t really appreciate a black father—Samuel Jackson—being used to voice the supposedly unspeakable thoughts of parents everywhere), but this lovely book is how you want to send your little one off to dreamland. Please do support this indie press! A while back we discussed the possibility of starting a Birthday Party Project—a campaign to get parents to commit to buying multicultural books as presents for any occasion, but specifically for the endless stream of birthday parties that most kids attend every year. Having books in the home and developing the habit of leisure reading impact a child’s academic success—and studies show that black and Latino kids have fewer books at home and read less during leisure time:

One of the things often overlooked in discussions of academic achievement is the importance of leisure reading, not only the quality of it but the volume of it.  There are, in fact, solid correlations between how much reading teens do on their own and how well they perform in school…

When we look at the results broken down by race, more concerns arise.  Table 11 doesn’t separate racial groups into age groups, but the racial groups in general show marked differences that likely are reproduced for the teen category alone.  Whites come in at .31 and .37 hours on weekdays and weekend days, respectively.  Blacks come in at half that figure, .17 and .18, even though blacks have more leisure time than whites (5.61 hours to 5.14 hours per day).  Hispanics have less leisure time (4.89 hours) and pile up even less leisure reading (.15 and .11 hours on weekdays and weekend days).

Edi’s got a list of new releases if you’re putting together a summer reading list for the teen in your life. And there are lots of great books that didn’t get their fair share of the spotlight last year—be sure to check out Nerds Heart YA. You can also find author interviews at Reading in Color, The Rejectionist, and The Happy Nappy Bookseller. And while you’re there, check out Doret’s great list of LGBTQ novels featuring queer teens of color.

I went to the PEN American Center office today and met with Stacey Leigh—she told me all about the Open Book Program:

Initiated in 1991, the PEN Open Book Program encourages racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities. Its committee works to increase the literature by, for, and about African, Arab, Asian, Caribbean, Latin, and Native Americans, and to establish access for these groups to the publishing industry. Its goal is to insure that those who are the custodians of language and literature are representative of the American people.

The Open Book Committee includes writers and publishing industry professionals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The Committee discusses mutual concerns and strategies for advancing writing and professional activities, and coordinates Open Book events.

We’re hoping to host a mixer later this month to give people a chance to meet and have their say about topics related to publishing. I’m excited about the possibilities and will post more in the near future, so stay tuned!

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Many thanks to Debbie Reese for posting this important article on Facebook: “Survey Finds Nearly 80% of U.S. Adults Believe Multicultural Picture Books Are Important for Children, but One-Third Say They Are Hard to Find.”

NEW YORK, June 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Nearly eight in ten (78%) U.S. adults believe that it is important for children to be exposed to picture books that feature main characters of various ethnicities or races—but one-third (33%) report that it is difficult to find such books, according to a recent survey that was commissioned by The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the love of reading and learning in all children.

The telephone survey, conducted in April by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation surveyed 1,001 U.S. adults and found that nearly three-quarters of parents (73%) and half of all adults (49%) have purchased a children’s picture book with a protagonist of a different race or ethnicity than the child who will be reading the book. Whereas, only 10% consider it important to match the race or ethnicity of the main character of a picture book to the race or ethnicity of the child who will be receiving the book.

“It’s reassuring that so many adults recognize the value in exposing children to books that portray people of all colors and ethnicities,” says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.  “What’s disheartening though is that, even today, these books are few and far between,” adds Pope, who notes that only 9% of 3,400 books published in 2010 for children and teens had significant minority content.

So which comes first? People don’t buy multicultural titles because bookstores don’t carry them, or bookstores don’t carry those titles because people don’t come in to buy them? One solution is to launch a new initiative that controls all the stages of book production. My agent told me about this PW article a few days ago and now it’s up on Facebook, too. I like this idea but worry that start-ups and outsourcing will give the big publishing houses an excuse to preserve their all-white operations:

Looking to provide a publishing platform for serious literary works, Brooklyn indie publisher Akashic Books is teaming with three notable African-American publishing and bookselling figures to launch Open Lens, a new imprint specializing in quality fiction and nonfiction aimed at the African-American reading audience. The new imprint will be called Open Lens and will debut in September with Makeda, a new novel by Randall Robinson, founder of the human rights and social justice organization TransAfrica.

Open Lens is a co-venture between Akashic Books and literary agents Marie Brown and Regina Brooks along with Hue-Man Bookstore owner Marva Allen and initial guest editor, former Random House executive editor Janet Hill Talbert. Akashic Books has long focused on the African-American market with a list of titles focused on African-American, African, and Caribbean authors.

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Have you become a member of DIPNET yet? It’s free and easy to join. You can read my guest post on their blog today and later this week I’ll be interviewing Bobby Nayyar, DIPNET Consultant Development Manager, in order to better understand just how the Publishing Equalities Charter came about and how he manages to convince publishers in the UK to tackle the issue of equity. I know that Americans generally like to think of themselves as “world leaders,” and many aren’t fond of the idea of following a European business model. But you know what? A good idea is a good idea, and we can learn from others without mimicking them. Look at all the amazing TV shows we’ve “borrowed” from the British—American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, The Office

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In the summer of 2009 I got an unusual email from Amazon—not an advertisement or order confirmation, but a personal email. This message came from an acquisitions editor who had read my novel, A Wish After Midnight, which I self-published the year before. This editor said he loved the book and wanted to partner with me to help it find a larger audience. After verifying that it wasn’t a hoax, I entered into negotiations and ultimately sold the rights to my novel to AmazonEncore, the company’s new publishing wing. Wish was given a beautiful new cover and was re-released six months later in early 2010.

As a black feminist, I definitely had reservations about partnering with a behemoth like Amazon. I worried what my friends would say—would they accuse me of selling out? Was I betraying my feminist values? Yet, I reasoned, I had spent nearly a decade dealing with rejection from big and small publishers alike. My work was even turned down by a feminist press that was headed by a black woman! I didn’t embrace self-publishing at the outset—I was driven to it by the refusal of traditional publishers to give my writing their official stamp of approval. Self-publishing ensured that my work would exist in the world, but I still encountered a great deal of resistance and a certain measure of disdain, and it was a real challenge to get my books into the hands of readers and reviewers.

In the end, to my relief, most of my feminist friends congratulated me on my decision to work with Amazon and did all they could to spread the word about my “new” novel. I had a fantastic experience collaborating with the AmazonEncore team—I was treated with respect, my expertise and ideas were valued, and no changes were made to my feminist narrative about two black teenagers sent back in time to Civil War-era Brooklyn. Wish wasn’t reviewed in any major outlets, but the blogosphere embraced it and my overall experience was so positive that I plan to publish my next YA novel with AmazonEncore in 2012.

I’m still determined, however, to keep all options on the table when it comes to publishing. The industry is in flux right now, and I think authors need to respond by being flexible and open to new possibilities. We also need to be conscious of the ways that certain voices continue to be marginalized within the publishing community. Statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center demonstrate that authors of color constitute only 5% of the five thousand books published annually for young readers. Getting published is an uphill battle for most writers, but the institutional racism that pervades all sectors of US society makes it that much harder for people of color to have their stories published by traditional houses. Self-publishing has been an important option for black writers for centuries, and I suspect that won’t change any time soon.

The first time I spoke publicly about self-publishing was at Rutgers University. After reviewing my award-winning picture book, Bird, Dr. Yana Rodgers invited me to speak to her students in the Women and Gender Studies Department. She assigned my self-published play, Mother Load, and I developed a presentation that paid tribute to Barbara Smith and Audre Lorde. I talked about Second Wave black feminist publications and the historical importance of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, founded by Smith following a 1980 phone conversation in which Lorde asserted, “We really need to do something about publishing.” Nearly a decade later, Smith reflected on this pivotal moment:

Why were we so strongly motivated to attempt the impossible? An early slogan of the women in print movement was “freedom of the press belongs to those who own the press.” This is even truer for multiply disenfranchised women of color, who have minimal access to power, including the power of media, except what we wrest from an unwilling system. On the most basic level, Kitchen Table Press began because of our need for autonomy, our need to determine independently both the content and the conditions of our work and to control the words and images that were produced about us. As feminist and lesbian of color writers, we knew that we had no options for getting published except at the mercy or whim of others—in either commercial or alternative publishing, since both are white dominated.[i]

To the students at Rutgers I explained my decision to start my own imprint, Rosetta Press, with its mission to publish books “that reveal, explore, and foster a black feminist vision of the world.” I didn’t then see any significant difference between my self-publishing project and the aims of the feminists at Kitchen Table Press. But over time I had to admit that I hadn’t formed a collective, and I wasn’t planning to publish anyone’s work other than my own—not until I caught up on the backlog of unpublished manuscripts on my hard drive. Self-publishing is, as the term suggests, very self-centered; its appeal lies in the autonomy it provides, but that level of self-reliance is only partly in line with my understanding of feminism. I confess, I don’t want to tell anyone else how or what to write, and self-publishing frees me of the need to please anyone other than myself with my writing. But do I owe the world something more than my books?

I concluded my presentation that day by reading aloud June Jordan’s prophetic words about the “difficult miracle” of being a black writer in the US:

…we have been rejected and we are frequently dismissed as “political” or “topical” or “sloganeering” and “crude” and ‘insignificant” because, like Phillis Wheatley, we have persisted for freedom. We will write against South Africa and we will seldom pen a poem about wild geese flying over Prague, or grizzlies at the rain barrel under the dwarf willow trees. We will write, published or not, however we may, like Phillis Wheatley, of the terror and the hungering and the quandaries of our African lives on this North American soil. And as long as we study white literature, as long as we assimilate the English language and its implicit English values, as long as we allude and defer to gods we “neither sought nor knew,” as long as we…remain the children of slavery, as long as we do not come of age and attempt, then to speak the truth of our difficult maturity in an alien place, then we will be beloved, and sheltered, and published.

But not otherwise. And yet we persist.

I’ve written quite extensively about racism in the publishing industry and the risks and rewards of self-publishing. When aspiring authors ask me how to deal with rejection, I tell them to persist: Keep writing. Get your work done so that when the moment arrives, you’ll be ready. Study the industry and know what you’re up against. You may have to adjust your expectations, and you may find yourself forming unexpected alliances. But don’t surrender your voice or your vision. Stay in the game and work with others who are trying to change the rules.

Lately I’ve been puzzling over how to be an “ethical author” in an industry that only seems to value the bottom line. Can I preserve my autonomy and still serve the communities to which I belong? I think so. Last month the publishing industry convened in NYC for the annual BookExpo America; BEA 2012 would be the perfect opportunity to ask members of the publishing industry to sit down and get serious about equity. My goal now—in between job-hunting, self-publishing a new novel, and finishing the sequel to Wish—is to replicate the UK Publishing Equalities Charter proposed by the Diversity in Publishing Network (DIPNET):

The aim of the UK Publishing Equalities Charter is to help promote equality and diversity across UK publishing and bookselling, by driving forward change and increasing access to opportunities within the industry…

For many years the industry has spoken collectively of the need to make publishing more diverse yet has not embarked on an industry wide initiative to resolve this issue. “What is widely suspected about publishing has proven true: the industry remains an overwhelmingly white profession…”

The same can be said of the publishing industry here in the US and it’s about time we did something about it. I’m not ready to start a feminist press, but I can still advocate for equity so that marginalized writers can become more visible in the literary landscape, which never has accurately reflected the composition of this country.


[i] Barbara Smith. “A Press of Our Own, Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press.” FRONTIERS, Vol. X, No. 3, 1989, 13-15.

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Did you attend BookExpo America last week? Did you notice that stepping into the Javits Center was like leaving New York City—trading an incredibly diverse city for an astonishingly white world of publishing professionals? We can do something about that. I just sent an email to the Conference/Education Programming team (you can find their email addresses here). Do you know anyone else who can help us make this happen? If so, please email me or leave a comment and/or reach out to them yourself. I met with Jill from Rhapsody in Books last week and we tried to think of ways to mobilize people around the issue of equity in publishing. Should we try to get a celebrity on board? Would Bill Cosby or Queen Latifah or Alicia Keyes lend their name to this cause? What about Spike and Tonya Lee, or Jada Pinkett Smith–black celebrities who have ventured into the world of publishing? Or could we dispense with celebrities and just try to get “major players” into a room and on the record? I’m open to ideas…

   

Greetings. My name is Zetta Elliott and I am an author/blogger/scholar. I would like to propose a session for BEA 2012 that would address the issue of equity in publishing. BookExpo is a wonderful event, yet one can’t help but notice the shocking lack of diversity at the nation’s largest publishing convention (held in the nation’s most diverse city).

At the London Book Fair, DIPNET (the Diversity in Publishing Network) holds an annual meeting to discuss their proposed UK Publishing Equalities Charter; I think BEA could benefit from holding a similar session in order to give publishers, booksellers, book buyers, and other members of the literary community an opportunity to strategize and share ideas around improving equity in the US publishing industry. Representatives from the AAP, ABA, and AAR could join authors, educators, and librarians to set concrete goals that would ensure that the 21st-century publishing industry accurately reflects this nation of readers and writers.

I will be presenting a paper at the Race, Ethnicity, and Publishing conference at the Université de Provence in March 2012; I would like to report to attendees that the US is taking steps to address the appalling inequity in its publishing industry. I regularly blog about this issue and would be happy to collaborate with you, should you need any help coordinating and/or advertising a session for BEA 2012.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Zetta Elliott

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This has been a difficult week: BEA was mostly a bust, I suffered a serious wardrobe malfunction (curse you, cute shoes!), and got a harsh reality check regarding my job prospects. Still, things ended on a positive note yesterday—my students wowed me with their artwork/performances and I got to connect with some AmazonEncore friends. Today I’m taking it easy, ignoring the stack of grading and the mound of laundry silently glaring at me from the corner. I found this interesting article on the Ms. blog: “Where Are the Girls in Children’s Literature?” The conversation in recent years has focused on the neglect of boys in kidlit (or YA lit, more specifically), yet this study shows that in the last century, girls suffered from “symbolic annihilation” due to the gender disparity in children’s picture books. Last week I was thinking about Elizabeth Bluemle’s search for “non-race-driven” multicultural books—what would it mean (or how would I feel) if a man asked for “non-gender-driven” books about girls? Books where gender is taken for granted, and doesn’t become the focus of the story? How many books would make that list?

I’ve been asked to contribute to an anthology about bullying and other forms of oppression, and I’m trying to convert one of my short plays into a short story. It’s about two teens held in protective custody: one was rescued from a suburban brothel and the other ran away from a polygamist cult. It’s definitely a gender-driven narrative, but I don’t suppose anyone would have a problem with that. No one would ask for more stories about girls “just having fun” and being “ordinary people.” Next on my reading list? This Vanity Fair article about sex trafficking in the US and another article from the Ms. blog about a young woman brutalized by her pimp and fellow sex workers:

When a young woman in Atlanta tried to escape her pimp in April 2010, his retaliation was swift and brutal. He ordered four other sex workers to beat the runaway until her eyes swelled shut and a bottle pierced her head.

Then the pimp locked the 21-year-old woman in a 3-by-5 foot dog cage overnight, bragging about her debasement by texting photos of the caged woman to other pimps. Police, tipped off by someone horrified by the photos, found the woman alive in a hotel and arrested the pimp and prostitutes.

Sometimes girls “just wanna have fun,” and sometimes that’s not remotely possible. Here’s to “keepin’ it real,” whether you’re writing about race, gender, or talking back to Beyonce (who’s also featured in a new trailer for the film, Dark Girls).

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It’s BookExpo this week, and I must admit that I woke with a feeling of dread this morning. I’m looking forward to meeting some new people (including Jill from Rhapsody in Books!) but I hate crowds, I’m not good at mingling, I still have to teach, and it’s raining right now. Hopefully I’ll be able to snag a cab so I won’t have to schlep all the way out to the west side.

While BookExpo celebrates all things related to publishing, it’s easy to forget that young readers are part of the equation. If you missed out on donating books to Ballou HS through the Guys Lit Wire book drive, then please consider giving to San Marcos H.S. in Santa Barbara. Click that link to get all the details about Ari’s second book drive to supply deserving schools with books by and about people of color. Here are some of the titles they’re hoping to receive:

Carmen: an urban adaptation of the opera by Walter Dean Myers

Fish out of Agua by Michele Carlo

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles (not out until August so an ARC would be awesome)

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Not out until October so an ARC would be awesome)

Huntress by Malinda Lo

Kira, Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

Luminous by Dawn Metcalf (releases in July but an ARC would be greatly appreciated!)

Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

Please mail the books to

San Marcos High School c/o Helen Murdoch
4750 Hollister Ave
Santa Barbara, CA 93110

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Elizabeth Bluemle is an activist bookseller who’s trying to effect change within the publishing community. Stop by her Shelftalker blog if you know of titles that might fit her criteria:

Stories and nonfiction about racially charged eras and issues of racial identity in our culture are critical, of course. But equally important are mainstream stories—in every genre—that feature kids of color as main characters in a setting that, like most of America, is culturally and racially diverse. Stories about friendship, family, pets, love, character, self-reliance, etcetera, in mysteries, adventures, science fiction and fantasy, for every age child and every type of book, including chapter books, board books, easy readers.

I’ll be interested in seeing how many 2011 titles publishers put forward. Out of the 5000 books published annually for children, how many do you think are “non-race-driven multicultural titles”? I’m working on an essay right now about the challenges I face when trying to be an “ethical author.” How do you act with integrity in a homogeneous industry that seems only to value the bottom line? I want my conclusion to offer solutions, and this is my big idea: every year at BookExpo, the publishing community should come together to focus exclusively on equity. We need librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, editors, agents, art directors, booksellers, marketing directors, book reviewers, book buyers, and literacy advocates to commit to a set of ethical, equitable standards—like those outlined in the UK Publishing Equalities Charter. We need members of the publishing community to become signatories—to make a solid commitment to taking concrete actions AND to posting their results. That way we can track progress and offer support and resources when signatories fall short of their goals. It’s not enough to rely on folks’ good intentions. Not when all the evidence proves that goodwill, if and when it exists, simply isn’t enough.

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Sometimes my students save me. I can get mired in my own thoughts and it really helps to be drawn out, to stop ruminating and start reflecting. This past week we had some really interesting conversations about the death of Osama bin Laden, the memorialization of traumatic events, and reparations. Then I saw on Facebook that Sarah Park posted the reading list for her course on Social Justice in Children’s/YA Literature. I’ve got so much reading to do! So this morning I woke up wanting to revisit the issue of equity in publishing. What would it look like? How can it be achieved? How do I, as an author, publish in a way that reflects my commitment to social justice?

Remember my cousin Bethany J. Osborne‘s fabulous explanation of the difference between equity and diversity?

Diversity is when you invite many different kinds of people to sit at your table.  You look for difference in terms of age, race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, ethnicity, etc.  But equity means addressing the fact that some people come to the table without a fork, some have two plates or none at all, some expect to be waited on, and some are more accustomed to doing the serving.  Equity attempts to ensure that everyone can sit down to eat together on terms of equality.

When I look at the publishing industry today, I see an approach that mirrors the diversity efforts on many college campuses. Debbie Reese posted this useful article (“The Invisible Campus Color Line“) on Facebook a few weeks back and I shared it with my colleagues at work. There was some resistance, but at least half a dozen educators agreed that we’re missing the mark when it comes to institutional equity:

Initially, schools are enthusiastic, pledging their full commitment to ensuring their campuses are free of racial, religious, and gender bias. They willingly participate in surveys that measure students’ perceptions of cross-cultural relations on campus. They throw international dinners, sponsor diversity days, and spend weeks writing and refining diversity statements.

But when [EdChange founder Paul Gorski] begins to suggest the work that he believes really counts—reevaluating policies, reallocating budgets, and ultimately challenging the status quo—they stop returning his phone calls. They hire someone new, and they start again. Since student bodies turn over so quickly, it always looks as if the school is making an effort, even if they’re actually just treading water.

I think it’s safe to say that the publishing industry in the US is “just treading water” when it comes to diversity and equity. And as with college campuses, “Token efforts to ‘celebrate diversity’…often amount to little more than marketing stunts.” If the dominant group holds a huge banquet every year and after much petitioning finally invites three marginalized people to attend the banquet, that’s not equity. If they say, “We love spicy food! Why don’t you bring some of your delicious ethnic food for us to sample?” That’s not equity. Getting invited might make you feel special, but whatever you bring to the table won’t actually alter the power dynamics that determine who holds the banquet, determines the guest list, sets the menu, etc.

But what’s actually achieved by NOT showing up at the banquet, or choosing to hold your own private party someplace else? If you show up at the banquet and try to tell the attendees about themselves, you’ll be shunned and marginalized even further. If you show up, smile, and “go along to get along,” then you’re perpetuating the problem. You’re upholding—and ultimately affirming—the status quo. Is that the price marginalized folks have to pay to get their books out into the world?

As far as I can tell, the only comprehensive plan to reform the publishing industry comes from the UK group, DIPNET.

The aim of the UK Publishing Equalities Charter is to help promote equality and diversity across UK publishing and bookselling, by driving forward change and increasing access to opportunities within the industry…

For many years the industry has spoken collectively of the need to make publishing more diverse yet has not embarked on an industry wide initiative to resolve this issue. “What is widely suspected about publishing has proven true: the industry remains an overwhelmingly white profession…”

That’s true of the big houses and many small presses—even feminist and multicultural publishers. Amazon’s expanding its publishing program, but will it transform or mirror the “all-white world” of traditional publishing? Self-publishing is one option, but there are obvious limitations to going it alone. DIPNET offers these steps to achieving equity in the publishing industry—can you see US publishers signing up for this?

SUGGESTED ACTIONS

  • Wherever possible try to recruit a representative mix of people according to your local demographics. For example 46% of England’s ethnic minority population live in London (source: LDA: ‘The Competitive Advantage of Diversity’, Oct 2005), this should be reflected in organisations based in London.
  • Provide equality training for all staff on a yearly basis
  • Set up a staff equalities working group ensuring a good representation of people in the organisation
  • Create an equality policy that is embedded throughout the organisation in policy, strategy and working practice
  • Monitor the impact of policies through conducting equality impact assessments
  • Make all policies transparent by updating them and making them available to all staff (e.g. via the intranet)
  • Provide equality training for senior managers and board members
  • Make all job applicants complete an equality monitoring form which are monitored on a regular basis
  • Take on a trainee from an underrepresented group by hosting a Positive Action Traineeship
  • Increase recruitment pool by advertising jobs externally instead of informal recruitment methods (e.g. word of mouth)
  • Develop staff from underrepresented groups by providing training and career development opportunities
  • Develop a mentoring programme that supports new staff from traditionally underrepresented groups
  • Develop a mentoring programme that supports staff from traditionally underrepresented groups at transitional career stages
  • Hold an equality themed brown bag lunch for staff encouraging debate and dialogue amongst colleagues in an informal setting
  • Attract and recruit more disabled people to your organisation
  • Score all job applications on the core competencies required for the position to limit the use of informal recruitment methods
  • Make your sites accessible to all your clients and customers by conducting regular accessibility assessments
  • Include an equality statement within job advertisements
  • Ensure that all shortlisted candidates are asked whether they require any ‘reasonable adjustments’ prior to interview to ensure equal opportunities
  • Work towards achieving ‘Two ticks positive about disabled people’ accreditation which guarantees an interview to a candidate with a disability (as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005) and who match the requirements of the person specification
  • Take part in careers events in order to raise the profile of the industry to traditionally underrepresented groups
  • Run an equality themed seminar at a book fair
  • Form a relationship with a local school and run workshops/talks to educate students about the industry
  • Conduct regular surveys to identify satisfaction levels amongst staff
  • Make available a cultural calendar for staff to raise awareness of cultural/religious dates throughout the year
  • Hold a ‘Celebrating Equality’ day to enable staff the opportunity to find out more about their colleagues in an interactive manner
  • Wherever possible ensure authentic representation of people from underrepresented groups (e.g. book cover designs, illustrations, marketing material etc.)
  • Be involved in industry wide collaborations to increase equality in publishing
  • Take part in yearly industry wide reporting through organisations such as Skillset
  • Take on flexible working/condensed working hours to support those with caring responsibilities
  • Bridge the gender gap by encouraging and training more women into management and senior management positions
  • Bridge the ethnicity gap by encouraging and training more people from diverse ethnic groups into management and senior management positions
  • Host an open day so that the general public can find out more about your organisation
  • Encourage members of staff to be involved in seminars/workshops/talks that raise the profile of the industry to traditionally underrepresented groups
  • Identify an Equalities champion on your board of trustees who can be responsible for monitoring action on equality

Last week a friend sent me this article about living an intellectual life outside of the academy; it’s a little pie-in-the-sky, but at least someone’s out there looking for alternatives. That’s what’s needed for the publishing industry…

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