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Five ways to improve diversity
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NancyRoberts
The IPG
Posted by IPG
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Nancy Roberts of Business Inclusivity suggests five easy and free things publishers can do to take action on diversity and inclusion
News this week of the gender pay gap and white British dominance in publishing, drawn from the latest Bookcareers.com Salary Survey, once again highlights the industry’s challenges in diversity and inclusion. Publishers need to attract a diverse workforce if they are to thrive in the years ahead, but people will be reluctant to accept leadership from teams in which they do not seem themselves represented. So how can your business promote a more inclusive culture? Here are my top five tips.

1 Acknowledge the issue

For someone who feels uncomfortable or undervalued, there is nothing more frustrating than being told that their issue isn’t real. MP Jess Phillips talked recently about the ‘benign neglect’ of the Labour left towards gender equality issues, and publishers suffer from something similar. I have been told by at least half a dozen senior male publishing executives that gender equality in their organization is not an issue—but private conversations and personal stories have shown me that many women feel rather differently.

2 Show commitment at the highest level

Diversity experts agree that a senior commitment to diversity and inclusion is a critical success factor. When the CEO of an organization commits to an issue it begins to be taken seriously by everyone else—and studies also suggest that giving a senior leader specific accountability and responsibility for this agenda will also drive change.

3 Analyze your gender pay data

Larger publishers will need to be doing this anyway, in line with new legislation, but I would strongly advise all publishers to start looking at their gender pay gaps and consider what they might do about them. Why not get on the front foot and prove to your staff that you can do what’s right, not just what’s required?

4 Look at the external face of the organization

The public face of publishing hugely affects the diversity of talent it is able to attract. Help with recruitment is available: US website Textio will analyse your job adverts and flag words that different types of candidates find off putting, then make suggestions for more inclusive language that could be used instead. You can get a month’s trial of the software for free.

5 Move from mentorship to sponsorship

Recent research from the Economic and Social Research Council with King’s College London showed that, in seeking more senior roles, ‘women are more likely to receive advice from their networks, while men are more likely to have sponsors.’ A powerful advocate and sponsor is much more likely to get you into a senior role than a network—mentoring is great, but sponsorship will really make a difference.
Diversity is a thorny subject, and it is understandable that people approach it with some trepidation. But in my experience most employees are realistic. They don’t expect perfection overnight, but they do value a leadership team that is prepared to acknowledge the issues and engage in dialogue. There is a lot of work for publishing to do, but these five simple steps will hopefully help you to start your diversity journey.
Nancy Roberts is founder of Business Inclusivity. The company is offering IPG members an exclusive 20% discount on both its Inclusive Boardroom package and day rates for bespoke consultancy until the end of November.

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