Hachette UK has appointed Saskia Bewley to the newly-created role of diversity and inclusion manager, with the aim of accelerating its mission to become "the publisher and employer of choice for all people, irrespective of background".
Bewley, currently of academic publishing company Informa, where she is the first and sole diversity and inclusion expert working across the global FTSE 100 company, will act as a focal point for all activities, initiatives and plans under Hachette's overall umbrella "Changing the Story". Her job will be to mobilise and engage with everyone at Hachette UK, encouraging them to take part in the programme. She will also influence and advise on HUK’s overall diversity strategy and ensure that the company has a role in influencing and leading the national agenda.
Bewley takes up the new position on 2nd July, reporting to Nick Davies and Sharmaine Lovegrove, co-chairs of Changing the Story.
Hachette chief executive David Shelley said Bewley’s appointment was “key” to accelerating progress towards the company’s aim of making Hachette "the publisher and employer of choice for all people, irrespective of background”.
Like Penguin Random House UK c.e.o. Tom Weldon - who recently defended the company's diversity goals in wake of criticism from author Lionel Shriver - Shelley emphasised that its interest in expediting diversity and inclusion was not only because it was "the right thing to do morally", it "also makes good business sense".
"It has been so exciting to see the growth of Changing the Story over the past few years, most recently under the inspiring co-leadership of Sharmaine Lovegrove and Nick Davies," said Shelley. "We now have over 600 people actively engaged in networks, outreach work and other initiatives to help us in our ultimate mission to become the publisher and employer of choice for all people, irrespective of background. This aim is, as we see it, both the right thing to do morally, and also makes good business sense as it will help us serve a broader range of readers. It is a core part of our three-year plan at Hachette and is fundamental to who we are as an organisation.
"Saskia’s appointment is key in terms of helping to accelerate the progress we can make towards realising this aim, and I cannot wait to see the difference that her skills and expertise will make here."
Since Changing the Story was founded by Shelley in spring 2016, it has launched HUK’s paid work experience scheme and 12-month annual internship programme for BAME students, funded sponsored accommodation for interns and new starters, funded "Insight into Publishing" places on Publishing MA courses outside of London for BAME students, created a schools and university outreach programme and established partnerships with outside organisations including Stephen Lawrence Trust and given every member of staff two paid volunteering days. The firm has also commissioned a race and reading study, established The Future Bookshelf and launched Dialogue Books, an imprint dedicated to publishing writers from underrepresented backgrounds.
Davies and Lovegrove, who took over from Shelley as co-chairs of Changing the Story at the start of this year, heralded Bewley's appointment as potentially "transformative" for Hachette. Recent initiatives launched include sponsorship of the Bare Lit Festival, creative writing workshops with The Tamasha Theatre, and the establishment of a Turning Pages internship, in partnership with Kings College London, providing placements for students who identify as disabled. The first student joins Hachette on 25th June for a one-month internship.
They said in a joint statement: "We’re hugely proud of what the Changing the Story team has achieved over the past two years, but bringing Saskia’s expertise, professionalism and determination on board will be transformative for Hachette. We’re delighted that she is joining us and look forward to getting to work."
Bewley said: "I am absolutely delighted to be joining the team at Hachette UK and to meeting and collaborating with everyone to build upon the fantastic work that has already started via the Changing the Story programme. I am excited by the opportunity to progress the diversity and inclusion agenda in respect to employees, authors, publishing content, and the wider community. It is a privilege to be a part of Hachette’s journey towards being the publisher and employer of choice for all people."