As Chair of the IPA's Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to Peter Dowling, the Immediate Past President of the Publishers Association of New Zealand about their efforts to make their industry more inclusive.
Michiel Kolman (MK): There are two main drivers to address D&I: it is the right thing to do and there is a compelling business case. Which one is more important in NZ?
Peter Dowling (PD): The two are really intertwined. PANZ wants to do the right thing and in particular to adhere to the Treaty of Waitangi/Tiriti o Waitangi. There are a diverse range of books in New Zealand but the publishing workforce doesn’t reflect the make-up of society. So to continue publishing books that reach and reflect all readers, we need to break down any barriers to entry for people of diverse backgrounds.
MK: D&I rose to the PANZ agenda in 2020: what triggered that?
(PD): Diversity & inclusion have been on the agenda for some years now. PANZ Council has previously focused on reflecting our bicultural nationhood and respect for Māori. We’ve also observed the good work being led by the UK Publishers Association and others.
In 2017 the UK Publishers Association launched its Inclusivity Action Plan which was ambitious, comprehensive and not matched by any PA around the world. The UK PA is to be saluted for being a trailblazer in our industry on Diversity & Inclusion (D&I). I was happy to interview the UK PA’s CEO Stephen Lotinga on their D&I plan and its outcomes in 2019.
Two years ago Hugo Setzer asked me to become the IPA’s Presidential Envoy for Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in our industry. As the term of President Setzer is over my D&I envoy appointment also comes to an end but my work on this topic at IPA is not done. Time for a reflection on the last two years before I look at the future.
So, what has been achieved on the D&I front? First the IPA leadership itself. We certainly saw diversity there! The coming two years the IPA will be under the leadership of President Bodour Al Qasimi, finally a female president again, (too) many years after Ana Maria Cabanellas’ presidency, and the first president from the Middle East. Our new Vice President will be Karine Pansa, so strong female leadership at the top, and certainly ticking the gender diversity box. YS Chi was not long ago the first Asian IPA president and I, as far as I know, the first out president from the LGBTQ community. The IPA leadership diversity was explored well in the D&I panel for Publishers Without Borders with President Bodour Al Qasimi.
Diversity comes with many different lenses: gender, race & ethnicity, sexuality, disability, age, etc. Many of these lenses on diversity are well covered in the key surveys that track progress (or lack thereof) in diversity in our industry. The leading surveys in our industry are from the UK and the US and show progress on gender, with gender equality at the executive and senior level, but much more to do around race and ethnicity: in the Global North the publishing staff is very ‘white’, much more so than one would expect from the racially mixed cities where most leading publishers are located. Gender in publishing has been supported enthusiastically by Bodour’s PublisHER movement.
Triggered by the Black Lives Matter movement, race and racism was high on the agenda at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair’s Diversity Panel, and also at the Beyond the Book Cast on Race and Ethnicity in Academic Publishing with a deep dive on Elsevier. A message of hope where all positive change starts with a meaningful dialogue and therefore lots of emphasis on courageous conversations around race and racism.
We have seen significant progress on LGBTQ rights around the world and that is also reflected on the sexuality lens on diversity. In the above mentioned publishing industry surveys we see that the LGBTQ community is well represented in publishing with many active Pride employee groups across the globe.
As a bonus to our series of posts for Global Goals week, we thought we would concentrate on a specific goal, namely SDG 5: Gender Equality.
An Interview with Ellen Sporstøl and Kristin Orjasater on how Norway is inspiring the next generation of readers to become more sustainable.
This week is Global Goals Week, an annual week of action, awareness, and accountability for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2020, there is a sense of urgency. We have 10 years to achieve the ambitious targets set by the SDGs and that is short amount of time. At the end of 2019, the UN announced that the world was not on track to meet this target. Furthermore, they issued an urgent call for action to accelerate the partnerships, collaborations and projects that are needed to achieve the goals.
Persian Twitter is filled with an image showing two different covers of the third-grade math textbook in Iran these days. One is from 2019 depicting two girls and three boys playing outdoors. The second one, that caused the storm of fury, is the 2020 version in which the two girls are deducted!
Diversity & Inclusion in the publishing industry is not only relevant for the workforce in our industry (see my previous blog on key surveys measuring exactly that), but also for what we publish. Important questions that arise are the representation of women and minorities in books. Prof. Judi Mesman of Leiden University in the Netherlands studied this very topic and I asked her a series of questions which resulted in the following blog.
The conclusions are relevant for publishers: ‘do you want to aim for tradition, reflection, or emancipation’? Do we see ourselves reflecting today’s situation of women and minorities, or do we see ourselves as catalysts of change, as inspiration for a society that is more diverse and more inclusive, and that will install a sense of belonging for all, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, sexuality and the other lenses of Diversity & Inclusion?
This also links to a broader discussion taking place at the Educational Publishers Forum addressing the value of (educational) publishing. Educational publishers stand for local solutions, i.e. have a local industry that is publishing text books that represent local society - in terms of gender, but also other lenses of D&I (here is a great example from Canada).
Over to Prof. Mesman:
It has been impressive to see how fast our industry has responded to the challenges presented by COVID-19. While many publishers are busy trying to keep their businesses running, it would be easy to dismiss diversity and inclusion (D&I) as just another aspect to address when times are better. However there are compelling arguments to put D&I high on the agenda before, during and after the pandemic.
As we start a new decade, the subject of diversity remains firmly on the radar for most businesses and industries in 2020. This is also true for our own publishing industry as we continue to see how issues around diversity and inclusion, such as women representation in senior management, impact the way publishers operate. I believe our industry has always been a place that fosters creativity giving a platform to diverse voices. However, the question for most is where are we in terms of diversity and are we going in the right direction?
IPA D&I envoy, Michiel Kolman interviews Elsevier’s Simon Holt and Springer Nature’s Kirsty Bone about their experiences of having a disability and working in the publishing industry. This is a long but fascinating read.
On the topic of inclusion, we tend to focus on the areas of gender and sexual orientation. What does not receive as much attention is the area of accessibility. Simply put, having our products and services designed for people with disabilities speaks to the core of what publishers care about; the ability to reach and convey understanding to our target audiences. Accessibility is a key focus at the IPA, and the current IPA President, Hugo Setzer, is leading the call for publishers to support inclusive publishing practices. I caught up with Hugo to find out more;
Diversity and Inclusion comes in many different shapes and colors and this month, Pride month in many countries, the focus will be on LGBTI+, or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex, where the plus denotes all other groups in an overall inclusive approach to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Arguably a forerunner in making progress on the topic of inclusion and diversity, the UK Publishers Association began their journey with a landmark report on the diversity of the UK publishing industry in 2017. They have just released their findings from a follow up report, and I caught up with their CEO Stephen Lotinga during the London Book Fair to find out more.
When IPA President Hugo Setzer asked me to become the IPA’s Presidential Envoy for Diversity & Inclusion in the Publishing Industry I immediately accepted. It is a topic close to my heart and important for our industry – an importance which will only increase over time.