Bonnier reveals inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan

Bonnier reveals inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan

Bonnier Books UK has published its inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan to boost representation across its workforce and its publishing lists, and discussion within the wider industry.

The report reveals a slightly widened gender pay gap at the publishing house, but also a boost for interns and junior salaries, as well as a pledge for 20% of new recruits to be from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups by 2026. 

Along with the results from the company’s first diversity and inclusion review conducted by The Audience Agency — comprising research into its 316-strong workforce, publishing lists, recruitment pool and gender pay gap – the plan includes a detailed programme of action. 

Currently staff from BAME backgrounds represent around 9% of the workforce. The company has now pledged to ensure BAME groups represent 20% of the company’s new recruits by 2026, based on 2021 census data. Progress will be measured and published annually, along with Action Plan updates, on its website.  

The data in the eight-page report has shown that the gender pay gap has widened across the mean and median between 2019 and 2020. The median gap for hourly wage difference between men and women has increased from 7.8% to 10.4%. The mean has risen from 19.3% to 21.9%. The report reads: “We have a higher proportion of women working across all levels and last year, we hired more females than males in the lower two quartiles. It is important to note that where we had males leaving the business in the lower two quartiles, these roles were replaced by females. Further, we have a higher proportion of men, when compared to women, in the upper two quartiles and in comparison to the lower two quartiles. We believe these are the main contributors to the widening of our gender pay gap.” There are no plans to release a separate gender pay gap report. 

Actions outlined in the plan include overhauling Bonnier Books UK's talent search and recruitment practices; expanding and accelerating its focus on outreach; increasing salary levels for interns and introducing a new minimum salary for junior roles; and flexible working for all. This follows on from steps taken in 2018 which saw the publisher raise intern pay to £18,000 and develop an anonymous application system rather than CVs.

Meanwhile flexible working will remain a priority for the company beyond the current lockdown, as originally announced by Bonnier last September. Staff will be able work up to three days a week from home with the aim of reducing a London-centric emphasis, and the publisher will introduce enhanced family leave policies such as four weeks’ fully paid paternity leave, as well as boosted disability access in its new London office space. Earlier this month, a Publishers Association survey revealed that publishers had doubled their working from home flexibility in the pandemic.

The action plan will be developed across every business area with progress reported on at monthly management meetings. All colleagues will receive diversity and inclusion awareness training, with additional training on positive action for all hiring managers and effective allyship guidance will be included in new employee inductions. Employees can take on the role of ‘sponsor’ to actively support the work of colleagues from under-represented groups and there will be opportunities for staff to advocate and support young people from underrepresented groups outside the company. 

The company has also set up a staff Diversity and Inclusion Forum that will report into diversity and inclusion lead Greg Evaristo, on a monthly basis. The forum will be tasked with helping the company to progress and improve on its inclusive culture.  

As supporters of the BBC Creative Allies initiative, Bonnier Books UK will create positive change by using the RIVERS toolkit for inclusion. Spearheaded by the BBC’s director of creative diversity, June Sarpong, the RIVERS toolkit provides a route for creative sector organisations to recruit, develop and retain diverse talent.  

Perminder Mann, c.e.o. of Bonnier Books UK, said: “While we’re proud of the steps we’ve been taking at Bonnier Books UK to promote inclusion and embrace diversity, our findings show that we can and must do better. We will be commissioning this research on an annual basis to help us better understand our position and guide our progress as a team and a company.

"I’m a firm believer that meaningful change takes time and also that it does not happen in isolation. With the concerted efforts already being made across our industry, I’m eager for us to collaborate more and share our experiences. Progress is not always linear; we certainly don’t have all the answers and we’ll likely make some mistakes along the way, but we’re committed to learning from them and evolving our approach as we go. Not only does every book matter at Bonnier Books UK, but every voice and story matters too.”  

Evaristo said: “Over the past few years, Perminder, Anna and the team at Bonnier Books UK have taken some great strides in fostering an inclusive, non-corporate culture, where people are encouraged to be themselves and talent can flourish. However, they’re deeply aware that there is so much work still to be done. This report is a real and significant commitment to positive change and I’m looking forward to working with everyone at the company to help deliver this ambitious action plan.”  

Anna MacLaren May, people director at Bonnier Books UK, added: “At Bonnier Books UK, we’re committed to building a modern, relevant publisher that is fit for the future. In order to do this, we must ensure that we recruit and retain talent from all backgrounds and foster a culture where everyone can thrive. We’re proud to be taking positive action as an employer and reaching out more proactively to people who might not have considered a career in the publishing industry.”  

The report was launched internally at an all-staff event on 23rd February where Mann, Evaristo, MacLaren May and Lois Bray (brand and communications director) were joined by guest speaker June Sarpong.  

The full report is available to download at bonnierbooks.co.uk.