Hachette's gender pay gap challenge meets with silence

Hachette's gender pay gap challenge meets with silence

Hachette UK’s challenge to all major publishers to present their gender pay gaps in a more “transparent” way has been met with silence from the trade's other key players.

Hachette UK - which is legally obligated to report on part of the group that excludes its distribution arms, prompting it to produce two sets of results when the first gender pay gap figures were published in April - had called for two-way reporting across the board in the future. Hachette's rationale was that more like-for-like data could help publishers to tackle the issue more collaboratively. But the challenge appears to have fallen flat, with the other major publishers declining to respond publicly to Hachette's call for transparency.

Sharing its gender pay gap figures for 2018 more than four months ahead of the government’s imposed deadline in April 2019, Hachette UK recently revealed that for legal entity HUK Ltd, which excludes distribution, the figures will stand at a mean gap of 30.4% (2017: 29.7%) and a median gap of 20.1% (2017: 24.7%). It also produced a second, more flattering set of results for the whole Hachette Group, which includes distribution, a smaller mean gap of 17.8% (2017: 14.2%) and median gap of -0.6% (2017: 1.3%). In presenting its findings, the company noted improvements in its median figures but admitted some of the numbers were still “stark and nowhere near where we would want them to be”.

At the same time as unveiling a raft of initiatives designed to take on the issue in its company, a Hachette UK spokesperson said: "The gender pay gap is an important moral and business issue and, in order to give a clear picture across our business, we announce our results including and excluding distribution and internally by publishing division and function. We call on all major publishers to be transparent and to release their results including and excluding distribution so that we can tackle this pay gap together an industry."

Asked for reaction by The Bookseller, Penguin Random House UK declined to offer any comment specifically responding to Hachette’s stance but said it was currently going through its 2018 data and would report "in due course". PRH UK already has to produce two different gender pay gap reports - one for Penguin Books and DK and another for the Random House Group - and earlier this year it also offered another set of stats for PRH UK, the whole group; all include distribution functions, however.

HarperCollins UK similarly declined to comment on Hachette UK's challenge to other major trade publishers. It legally has to report for the whole group, which also includes distribution.

Pan Macmillan, whose own gender pay gap is reported on as part of Macmillan Publishing International Limited, which also includes distribution, also declined to comment at this time. Whether it will break out gender pay gap data specifically for the Pan Macmillan business this year remains to be seen as legally it doesn't have to.

Bonnier Books UK, which is not obligated to report its gender pay gap at all, because it doesn't meet the threshold of 250 or more staff, did not report last year. However it has confirmed that this year it will be doing so, even though it's not a legal requirement. It joins others voluntarily reporting their gender pay gaps, including academic publishers Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press.

"We believe that gender pay gap reporting is a much-needed catalyst for change and improvement. As a company, we are committed to tackling inequality and plan to publish our data voluntarily next year,” said Anna MacLaren May, Bonnier Books’ group HR director.

Bonnier Books' declaration on the gender pay gap comes in the wake of a new recruitment policy, increased salary for interns, and BAME editorial internship scheme, all intended to help the company to be more inclusive, as announced in October.

Bonnier said it has not decided exactly how it will report its gender pay gap yet, but as its trade business does not have a distribution arm it wouldn't be able to separate the two. "The priority would be reporting in a way that will provide an accurate reflection of the business and help us to bring about meaningful change,” a Bonnier Books UK spokesperson said.

In April this year, directly after the deadline for 2017's results, 84% of the 133 people who responded to a Bookseller survey said they were concerned by their company’s gender pay gap report, with just over half dissatisfied with their firm’s plans to tackle it.

By law, all companies with 250 or more staff have to file their gender pay gap figures relating to the snapshot date of 5th April 2018 by 4th April 2019.