Pan Macmillan has pledged £50,000 to Creative Access and undertaken to double its intake of fully funded Creative Access interns in a bid to help the agency continue its work to increase diversity in the creative industries.
Earlier this week news broke that the government would be slashing the charity's funding by more than £2m in spite of prior assurances from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in June its funding would not be pulled.
The move prompted a petition to save the charity started by journalist William Njobvu. It has since garnered signatures from over 2,500 people, including authors Nikesh Shukla and Cathy Rentzenbrink and Curtis Brown joint c.e.o. Jonny Geller. "Beyond belief that @_CreativeAccess is under threat when diversity is THE issue in creative industries. Do sign!" rallied Geller in a tweet.
Rina Gulrajani, head of HR at Pan Macmillan - that this week was recognised by Creative Access for "outstanding contribution and continuous support" - said the company had wanted to show its support "in a real way". Pan Macmillan has aims to increase the percentage of its BAME employees from 10% to "at least 20% quickly", according to managing director Anthony Forbes Watson, and Pan Macmillan has kept on four of six Creative Access interns who completed internships with the company.
"Led by Anthony Forbes Watson, Pan Macmillan was an early supporter of Creative Access and we have loved working with them and seen real results over the last few years. We wanted to show them our support in a real way by pledging this funding as a contribution to help keep Creative Access going and for their important work to continue," said Gulrajani.
Forbes Watson, Pan Macmillan m.d., added: "Diversity is very important to us at Pan Macmillan and becoming ever more so: We are committed to reflecting increasingly in the Pan Mac team the diversity of the society within which we publish, rather than the section of that society for which we have largely published in the past. Around 10% of our employees are BAME and the percentage is growing; we’d like this to reach at least 20% quickly. We believe based on the evidence that Creative Access makes a difference: we have taken on eight Creative Access paid internees over the last few years, and of the six who have completed their internships, four have stayed on in permanent positions. The diversification of our employee base is accelerating steadily in the right direction and we are committed to ensuring that it continues to do so.’
Pan Macmillan's financial pledge has been welcomed by Creative Access, and its chief executive, Josie Dobrin, says she hopes it could be a "catalyst for others to follow suit". Dobrin had told The Bookseller after the news broke that it was "a question on collaborating to find a solution"; the charity has organised placements for over 700 interns at 270+ companies since its launch in 2012, 112 of which have been within the publishing industry.
Dobrin said: "We are so hugely grateful to Pan Macmillan for stepping up and offering us this much needed support. Fingers crossed, this will be the catalyst for others to follow suit. We believe passionately that diversity spurs creativity and that companies that draw on the skills and experience of people from a wide range of different backgrounds gain a competitive advantage. We have been overwhelmed and humbled by the support all our amazing interns and media partners have shown to us since the announcement about our funding was made. We hope now to be able to continue with our mission of giving young BAME people paid training opportunities in creative companies and supporting them into full time employment."