A recent survey of 34 American publishing companies has revealed that 79% of the workforce is white, while another 78% are female. The numbers corresponding to the UK workforce in publishing is still yet unannounced.
Lee & Low Books, a multicultural publishing corporation oversaw the survey to completion. Among the 34 publishing companies which underwent the examination were big names, like Penguin, Random House, and Hachette. Outside of the 79% margin of white staff members, Asians or Pacific Islanders made up roughly 7.2%, Hispanics or Latinos made up 5.5%, and African Americans made up 3.5% of the workforce of these publishing giants.
Could the lack of diversity in staff directly correspond to a lack of diversity in content? The publishing company who ran the survey claims it was started due to very little hard data about the staff in the book publishing industry. It is a known fact that the majority of books published in America, today are by whites and about white characters. Of the 3,500 children’s’ books published annually in the United States, only around 84 are by black authors and 180 about black characters.
The survey produced numbers that were very similar to numbers regarding minorities in books. Most books, today, are predominately white. This definitely impacts the publishing industry. Whether conscious or subconscious, as if on auto-pilot, editors, marketers, executives, and sales representatives all interact with and recommend books to people who are like them or will likely enjoy their company’s books.
Everyone in the industry seems to agree that there needs to be much more diversity at every level of business and in every area of books and literature. Lee & Low’s survey also revealed that 88.2% of publishing companies’ staff are heterosexual and 7.6% claim to have a disability. Perhaps the survey might push big names in book publishing to finally find out what they can do to better make up their staff.
The survey was sent to over 1,500 reviewers and 11,000 members of the overall publishing staff.