Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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US survey finds publishing workforce 76% white, 74% female

In the US, the results from Lee & Low’s 2019 ‘Diversity Baseline’ survey of the workforce at have been released, showing little change from the publisher’s 2015 survey.

The survey found that 76% of staff are white, and 74% are cis women, with people of Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander/South Asian/South East Indian descent making up 7% of staff, Latinx/Latino/Mexican staff making up 6% and Black/African American/Afro Caribbean staff making up 5%. The survey also found 81% of respondents identify as straight/heterosexual and 11% identify as having a disability.

In 2019, more change appeared at the executive level, with the percentage of people identifying as white dropping from 86% in 2015 to 78% in 2019. The percentage of people at executive level identifying as straight dropped from 89% to 82%, while the percentage of people with a disability increased from 4% to 10%.

By department, marketing and publicity was the most racially diverse area, with the lowest percentage of white employees (74%), although it is ‘less diverse than other departments in the other areas’ according to the organisers. The 2019 survey also included interns for the first time, and data in this area showed ‘a dramatic departure from the overall industry numbers’, which organisers said signalled ‘a new, more representative generation of entry-level publishing staff’. Of the interns surveyed in 2019, 49% identify as Black, Indigenous or a person of colour; 49% are on the LGBTQIA spectrum; and 22% identify as having a disability.

The 2019 survey received 7893 responses (up from 3706 in 2015), with a total of 153 companies participating, including all of the Big Five publishers, eight review journals, 47 trade publishers, 35 university presses, and 63 literary agencies from across North America. Lee & Low notes that ‘Given the sample size difference, this three percent change in white employees does not meet the bar for statistically significant change. There is no discernible change to any of the other racial categories. In other words, the field is just as white today as it was four years ago.’


Category: International news