Pan Macmillan has published a diversity and inclusion action plan, featuring measures and targets to employ and publish more people of colour.
The plan, a first draft which will be reviewed and updated in six months' time, follows a pledge the company made in May to improve representation at the firm. Pan Mac said it had been a collaborative effort and was the result of consultations and discussion groups internally and externally, including with the Black Writers' Guild.
It states: “There is an urgent need for individuals, and companies such as ours, to be better allies and equitable employers to POC staff, authors and illustrators, to educate ourselves on issues of racism and prejudice, and to commit to sustained and effective action to oppose racism and ensure that it has no place at Pan Macmillan.”
The firm already has a target for 20% of its workforce to be people of colour. Currently that figure is 9% across Macmillan Publishers International, or 11% when including shared departments like HR and legal.
Pan Mac admitted the figure was “well short” of its target and said it was committing to filling a percentage of job vacancies with people from ethnically diverse backgrounds. It will target 10% of vacancies in 2021, 12.5% of vacancies in 2022, 15% of vacancies in 2023, 17.5% of vacancies in 2024 and 20% of vacancies in 2025.
The company also pledged to strengthen hiring practices, including launching a new recruitment portal this month to minimise unconscious bias and facilitate alternative application processes; workshops for hiring managers on good practice recruitment; piloting blind application recruitment over a six-month period; and exploring non-traditional avenues for hiring, including specific agencies and platforms for recruiting more senior people of colour.
In addition, Pan Mac is building on existing partnerships with both Creative Access and Eric Festival, including new paid internship programmes and events with the organisations to engage and attract more applicants.
Turning to its books, the company acknowledged its lists are “not representative enough of society”. It aims to grow the proportion of authors and illustrators of colour acquired across lists to 15% by 2023, and will target at least 5% to be black authors and illustrators by the same point. The targets aim to bring representation broadly in line with national proportions and the company vowed to work beyond them too.
The firm will introduce policies including widening sensitivity reader networks, establishing comparability in advances and fees across all authors and illustrators, and consultation with the Black Writers’ Guild.
In marketing and promotion, the company said initial steps have been taken to collect deeper audience insights and data specifically about POC readers, commissioning analysis and research to understand existing reach and gaps, and setting hard targets for digital channels in terms of POC contributors, pieces and posts.
The action plan also announces the rollout of unconscious bias training across the company in February 2021, a Faith Day policy, a new volunteering scheme, opportunities for mentorship and a third-party anonymous survey to improve inclusion and diversity.
In a note to staff, m.d. Anthony Forbes Watson said: “The events earlier this year came as a jolting reminder to me and everyone at Pan Mac of the vital importance of our commitment to prioritising diversity and inclusion across the company. We believe a healthy and diverse publishing ecosphere is more important than ever and I am focused with the exec and my HR colleagues on ensuring that diversity and inclusion stays at the top of our agenda.”