Championing diverse voices in our workforce, authors and books
Pledge #6: Our new hires and the books we acquire will reflect UK society by 2025.
Our industry does not currently reflect the society we live in. We believe that making publishing more inclusive is both a cultural and commercial imperative.
We have made a number of positive changes over the past few years, including removing the need for a university degree from all our jobs, introducing paid work experience, and finding and nurturing new writers through our WriteNow programme.
To better understand how our actions are making a difference in the long term we need to better understand the diversity of the authors we publish and the people we hire, and how this changes over time.
That's why we want both our new hires and the authors we acquire to reflect UK society by 2025. This means we want our new authors and colleagues to reflect the UK population taking into account ethnicity, gender, sexuality, social mobility and disability.
We want to see a positive shift towards this goal every year through to 2025 and will publish our progress on an annual basis.
Finding new writers with different stories to tell
In 2016 we launched WriteNow, an outreach and mentoring programme for unpublished writers.
Our aim is to find, mentor and publish writers from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves, including writers from BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) and LGBTQ communities, writers with disabilities and socio-economically marginalised writers.
In 2016 WriteNow welcomed 150 writers across the UK to three insight days in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Attendees heard from published authors and literary agents as well as receiving one-to-one feedback on their work from an editor.
12 exceptional new writers then joined our year-long WriteNow mentoring programme, working with one of our expert editors.
Building a more inclusive workforce
- We’ve removed the need for a University degree for all our new jobs.
- We’ve introduced paid work experience placements, banned personal referrals and introduced random selection to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to apply.
- We pay all our interns the London Living Wage.
- 400 colleagues took part in unconscious bias workshops in 2016, learning how bias affects the decisions we make every day.
- Our annual entry-level programme The Scheme is open to all and aims to find talented candidates based solely on their ideas and potential.
- Our Helen Fraser Fellowship offers a six-month paid placement for BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) candidates within our prestigious publishing imprint Hamish Hamilton.
In 2016 we welcomed 150 young people to 5 #PRHJobHack events across the UK, from Glasgow to Taunton to Birmingham, targeting young people who may not otherwise have considered a career in publishing.
The day-long interactive workshops offered an insight into our world and the wide range of jobs available in the industry. We asked participants to work together to create a marketing campaign for a new book, and pitch a new editorial idea, as well as putting them in the shoes of a recruiter to review CVs and covering letters. In 2017 we’ll be hosting 120 more young people at 4 new events.
Penguin Pride celebrated LGBTQ writers and writing - intriguing, inspiring and informing our readers by publishing content throughout the month of June across our online and social channels.
We created themed content included reading lists from our editors; extracts and original content from authors including Matthew Todd, Colm Toibin and Ali Smith; and a guest blog from Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt. We involved our readers by asking them to share their own ultimate #LGBTQLibrary on social media.
50 Penguin Random House employees joined the celebrations, marching in the annual ‘Pride in London’ parade.
Supporting emerging creative talent
A standout cover design is vital to a book’s success, and we have created thousands of iconic jackets over the decades.
To inspire the next generation of designers, we launched the Penguin Random House UK Design Award in 2005. The award challenges students from across the UK and overseas to design a cover for an adult fiction, adult non-fiction or children’s book.
The winner in each category receives a paid work experience placement in one of our design studios as well as a cash prize.
Pledge #7: We will champion freedom of expression through our editorial independence
Freedom of expression is fundamental to our organisation, and ensures we can publish diverse voices and wide-ranging opinions. We support our publishers’ choices of the books they want to publish and how they want to publish them.
Penguin Random House UK has long been a proud supporter and silver member of English PEN, the founder of a global network which defends and promotes freedom of expression.