Hachette UK unveils Ethnicity Pay Gap Action Plan

Hachette UK unveils Ethnicity Pay Gap Action Plan

Hachette UK has revealed an Ethnicity Pay Gap Action Plan, sharing what it is doing to address diversity and inclusion in areas of recruitment, progression, retention and representation, following the publication of its second Ethnicity Pay Gap Report in July and subsequent employee workshops over the summer. 

The publisher’s 2020 Ethnicity Pay Gap Report showed that representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees increased to 9.6% this year – 5.4 percentage points away from the publisher’s 2024 target of 15% of the total group workforce. Its resultant action plan identifies four key areas to build on this progress – recruitment, progression, retention and representation.

The action plan has been spearheaded by its HR department in consultation with Saskia Bewley, head of diversity and Inclusion, and the publisher’s BAME employee network THRIVE. It also aligns with the plans of Hachette UK’s Inclusivity Taskforce, which was established earlier this year in response to the Black Writers’ Guild. It is led by Sharmaine Lovegrove, focusing on "cultural interventions" towards increasing representation of black staff and authors. Collectively, they form part of Hachette UK’s wider mission to attract and retain diverse talent through a programme of policies and initiatives known as Changing the Story.

In recruitment, Hachette UK is offering specific recruitment training for hiring managers and developing "a manager toolkit" for their study, which will contain guidance and resources on the interview process. Backing this up will be an updated resourcing and recruitment policy, setting out "clear expectations of the basic requirements when recruiting, and best practice on increasing representation". This will involve clarification of basic expectations, such as ensuring all new roles are opened up internally as a minimum requirement, and exploration of positive action requirements for interview shortlists, such as including a certain number of candidates from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

A Diversity and Inclusion network is to be established, where it will send all vacancies; in addition to working with Creative Access, Hachette UK will be extending its outreach further to include a broader network of partners across the D&I space, from dedicated job boards to charities. This will complemented by a "refresh" in terms of how Hachette UK's career offering is presented, including on its website and in job advertisement copy. Also promised is a review of "the way in which [Hachette UK] tracks applicants, with consideration to effective data monitoring".

Furthermore, the company has said it will roll out an "enhanced" Publishing Traineeship model and new summer work experience programme. Plans for this are already in the pipeline, the company said, with details to be revealed later this year.

Addressing progression, pledges include completing a "People Census", offering a detailed report of the workforce, including representation by ethnicity. The census will provide "greater granularity and specificity" with regards to the composition of the company's workforce by "different D&I dimensions, and in relation to role and career trajectory".

The publisher's career development programme will meanwhile give high-potential colleagues from BAME backgrounds the chance to transition into an alumni programme in March 2021, after completing their time on the Mirror Board. First established in January 2020, the Mirror Board saw staff nominated by their m.d.s for a programme participants of leadership training, with business tasks set by the board and teaching from board members first-hand through a series of m.d. insights, covering career paths and divisional strategy.

To increase retention of staff, all colleagues are to receive "cultural awareness training", and BAME staff are to be consulted. A "preferred terms consultation" is being carried out with THRIVE, looking at the use of terms such as "BAME" and "People of Colour"; qualitative data collection on lived experience via focus groups and by ethnic group is to be explored as a possibility; and THRIVE's mentoring circles are to be supported to enable peer-to-peer development. 

Lastly, Hachette UK is conducting a publishing audit to benchmark the diversity of its author base. The exact form such an audit will take is currently under discussion, but the goal is to be able to assess the diversity of its authorship in a similar way to that of its workforce. The company said data disclosure would be optional and all data would be collected and stored in a GDPR compliant way.

The company's Grow Your Story writers’ development programme for emerging writers from a BAME background will commence in January 2021, as previously reported, and it is running portfolio sessions for designers and illustrators from a BAME background as well.

Melanie Tansey, group HR director of Hachette UK, commented: "To deliver on our mission of helping everyone, everywhere, to access new worlds of learning, entertainment, ideas and opportunity, we must ensure that more diverse perspectives and stories are shared through our publishing. And that starts with having a more diverse workforce. We still have a long journey ahead of us and we have developed the Ethnicity Pay Gap Action Plan with colleagues across the business to create a roadmap for becoming the wholly inclusive employer and publisher that we hope to be."