Hachette UK is to target diversity in its senior management team with its Diverse Leaders Future Mentoring Scheme, designed to give up-and-coming stars from non-traditional publishing backgrounds the skills and confidence to rise up in the business.
The measure is one of four being launched in Hachette's Changing the Story programme, which aims to make it "the publisher and employer of choice for all people", regardless of age, disability, race, gender, sexuality or socio-economic background.
Places on the scheme will be limited and the selection process will be "rigorous", concentrating on diversity and potential. Each successful candidate will be paired with a Hachette UK Board member who will have received professional mentoring training to ensure that this "intense" programme of one-to-one mentoring is "fruitful and rewarding" for mentors and mentees alike.
"We believe that this is the first publishing industry programme of its kind involving main board members, and the scheme has the potential to be a significant programme for change not just at Hachette, but across the whole of publishing,” Yassine Belkacemi, publicity manager at John Murray, said.
Other initiatives being launched at Hachette are a paid work experience scheme, to take place in spring/summer 2017, which will involve taking on up to 15 people on eight-week long internships within the publishing divisions. All interns will be paid London Living Wage rates.
Jazmin Yanez, head of HR for Octopus, IT and Finance, said: “Our aim is to appeal to a wider spectrum of people with the right potential and motivation; providing financial support, mentoring and training to equip them with the skills to start a career in publishing."
Later in 2017, Hachette will launch its BAME internship scheme offering paid, 12-month placements for under-represented black, Asian and other non-white minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME). These internships are likely to consist of two intensive six-month periods to be spent with two different Hachette UK divisions, equipping interns with a wide variety of skills that they would put to use should they secure a permanent role at the end of their 12 months. The schemes will be "widely promoted outside the usual recruitment channels".
A further initative will be The Outreach Programme which will see the company work with students of "all ages from all walks of life" with the aim of increasing literacy levels, reaching out to readers who are under-represented in publishing and encouraging diversity throughout the industry.
Part of the Outreach Programme will be The Hachette Reading Scheme which will start in January 2017. Hachette will run an annual, six-month-long book group at John Scurr Primary School with the aim of improving literacy and analytical thought from a young age. Each student will be provided with books published by Hachette UK, chosen to complement the school’s curriculum. They will receive weekly help with reading provided by volunteers from our staff, as well as a monthly book group to encourage a deeper analysis of the books.
Also as part of the Outreach Programme, Hachette will be working with student unions and other organisations to encourage their members to consider a career in publishing. The publisher is also the first group to run the Publishing Association’s new role-play-based workshop on careers in the industry.
Sharan Matharu, editorial assistant at Hodder & Stoughton, said: "Our aim is to get young adults excited about different aspects of publishing and to raise awareness of the industry in those to whom publishing might not seem an obvious career path.”
The fourth element of the scheme, Diverse Voices in Publishing, will be a Hachette-hosted BAME event that will take place on 23rd March.
Sara Adams, editorial assistant at Headline, said: “Hachette will host its inaugural Diverse Voices in Publishing event in March 2017 to discuss BAME representation in publishing. We will create connections between readers, writers and publishing teams to facilitate a frank and honest discussion about promoting a wider range of publishing opportunities for BAME authors. The evening, which will be led by a panel of writers, publishers and agents, will be open to Hachette staff, as well as agents, booksellers, readers and writers. Further details, including how to book a place, will be released at the beginning on 2017.”
David Shelley c.e.o. of Little, Brown and Orion and leader of the Changing the Story working group at Hachette, said he is "so excited and energised" about the initiatives.
"We are passionately committed to our aim to be the publisher and employer of choice for ALL people, and we want to do as much as we can, as quickly as we can, to achieve this and to create a more diverse business," he said. "The initiatives have come out of work done by the 70 people involved in the dynamic Changing the Story group, who come from all areas of our business, and who are all completely dedicated to this aim. They pinpointed the areas they decided are crucial and each of the plans we launch today has been initiated by them and will be managed and delivered by teams in the group. The Changing the Story group is fully backed by the Hachette UK main board and senior management, and we are empowering them to deliver significant change within our business.”
There will be further details on these initiatives and more announcements to come from Changing the Story at regular intervals, Hachette said.
The Building Inclusivity in Publishing conference programmed by the Publishers Association and the London Book Fair is running today (15th November).