Zed Books is a radical independent publisher based in north London.
We publish trade and academic books on the social sciences and, unusually, are run as a worker co-operative. All of these features made it imperative for us to sign up to the new Publishing Equalities charter organised by Equip.
Zed Books is a company committed to equality and championing the rights of the marginalised—this is a conscious element of our publishing programme, and has been so since our inception. Originally conceived as a platform for scholars and activists in the developing world to bring their work to the West, Zed remains an outlet for dissenting voices from multiracial and multinational backgrounds.
Signing the charter and committing to equality and diversity in publishing is, for us, a way to demonstrate that we also adhere to the ethics we publish on. While discrimination and marginalisation in the publishing industry may seem a long way away from gay rights in Africa, inter-caste violence in India or many of the other subjects we publish on, we consider equality a universal goal, and just important to pursue in our own backyard as in the international arena.
This is still a hugely relevant and problematic issue. We all know that publishing is historically a white male-dominated industry, but that in recent years, women have been entering the industry in increasing numbers. However, this is not enough, and remains unrepresentative of the proportional changes in the UK workforce.
Publishing needs to become more inclusive in order to meet the needs of the UK’s increasing BME, gay, lesbian, transgender, disabled and aging populations, as we need to make sure that our products are relevant to and representative of the market we serve.
And not only do we need these people in the industry—they need to be reaching the top level positions, the key area traditionally dominated by white men, before we can begin to take equality within the industry for granted. This is a practical as well as an ethical necessity—to refuse to do so would leave us with a skewed view of our market and out of touch with contemporary society.
The establishment of full equality in the industry in accordance with the charter should be a priority for every forward-looking publishing house, and Zed Books is proud to be a part of this process.
Exploring new avenues of recruitment, improving pay, particularly at entry level, taking part in mentoring schemes and talks, building internal equality policies and working as part of Equip’s initiatives are all positive steps we will be taking to support the charter, and we hope to encourage others in the industry to take a positive stance against discrimination.