Hachette UK c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson has called for the defence of publishing's "liberal" principles in a speech at the Building Inclusivity in Publishing Conference yesterday (15th November), as the world lurches politically towards the right.
During "turbulent times" and in "a general climate of fear, mistrust and prejudice", amid growing support for right-wing politicians, Hely Hutchinson said: "While political and media fashions change ... the liberal principles for which publishing stands must never change. Liberal, meaning tolerant, should never be a term of abuse. The words Elite and Expert meaning excellent and educated, should never be disrespectful. More than ever we should stand up for such qualities".
The Hachette UK chief was building on his comments made after Donald Trump became president elect last week, when he said “the fight for kindness and tolerance” must continue. He criticised the press for having "fanned a climate of Xenophobia" in the run up to Brexit and branded as "shocking" headlines saying companies would be 'named and shamed' if they didn't reveal how many foreign workers they employed. Had the government not dropped the controversial plans, Hely Hutchinson said he would "not have minded" making the disclosure: "our list would have been headed 'we are proud to employ the following fabulous people'", he said.
During his speech, Hely Hutchinson also emphasised the importance of kindness in the workplace and stressed his belief work should be "a place where the people who love you would be happy for you to be". While diversity in recruitment would be the focus of today's conference, he said, "I would also encourage discussion of ideas to improve constantly the way we treat our colleagues - from the warmth and competence of our welcome on their very first day to the most gracious goodbye when they leave".
Commenting on progress made by the industry in building both social and racial inclusivity, he said it was "plain" to see the UK industry was "largely falling short". Hachette today revealed a raft of new initiatives to promote diversity, one of which targets diversity in its senior management team, with other schemes including paid work experience, a BAME internship scheme and Hachette-hosted BAME event, and an "outreach" programme to promote literacy in schools.
Hely Hutchinson was recently listed among 2016's leading LGBT executives, by OUTstanding and the Financial Times, for his regular promotion of Hachette's policy of tolerance and openness.