"We are all more than our labels", Kit de Waal has said, urging publishers to "take a leap of faith" and hire more diversely, on accepting her award as FutureBook Person of the Year.
De Waal made the comments as she gave the closing keynote of FutureBook Live on Monday (25th November) while being recognised for her commitment to improving diversity in publishing.
De Waal received the award as someone who has “stood up for those who don't always have a voice in the trade, not just telling others what they need to do, but also demonstrating it herself”.
After taking stock of the progress the trade has made over the past few year, de Waal said publishers needed to recruit the best "no matter where they're from" – "but the best doesn't mean the same".
"Take that leap of faith with your black, gay, trans, other, different, disabled, rough around the edges, northern, junior assistant," de Waal urged. "What else would they bring to the editorial table? What else do they have to contribute apart from their identity? Don't continually ask your black member of staff questions about diversity and difference. You might find they're really, really good on cookery books and sci-fi. We are all more than our labels."
But the author also acknowledged how warmly she'd been received, and listened to, by the trade, despite her only having been in the business for a short period, and the criticisms she has made.
De Waal follows Dialogue Publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove who was named FutureBook Person of the Year in 2018.