Several weeks ago I posted about why we’re asking publishers to join our Diversity Baseline Survey. If you missed that post, here’s a quick summary of the project:
The Diversity Baseline Survey we’ve proposed would be the first of its kind for US publishers. It involves creating statistics that do not yet exist by measuring staff diversity among publishers and review journals in four areas: gender, race, sexual orientation, and disability.
In short, we’re hoping that all publishers, from small to large, will opt in and encourage their staff to take our short survey. If they do, for the first time we’ll be able to see a clear picture of diversity among publishing staff.
Why Bother When We Know the Numbers Are Bad?
Having these numbers is the first step toward improving diversity because it will give us a starting number and a way to measure progress. While publishing is not usually a numbers-focused industry, if we are serious about attacking the lack of diversity among publishing staff it’s imperative that we take an analytical approach. Without baseline numbers, there’s no way to know if new initiatives in recruitment and retainment are actually changing the landscape. For many years, people were under the impression that diversity in books was increasing. When we released our 2014 study which looked at the numbers over a 20-year period, many people were shocked to see that, based on the numbers, the situation had not actually improved. This problem is too important to solve by just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. It’s time to commit to improvement through concrete actions that can be tracked.
Where We’re At
So far, the following publishers and review journals have agreed to be part of the survey:
School Library Journal
Arte Publico Press
Cinco Puntos Press
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Just Us Books
Lee & Low Books
Second Story Press
If you don’t see your publisher on the list, we encourage you to reach out to them and express your support for the project. Ultimately, everyone benefits when this survey is as comprehensive as possible. Send them here for more information on how to join.
Administering the Survey + Privacy Concerns
When we first announced this project, we got many responses from people who supported the idea but were concerned about employee privacy. We took that feedback to heart and have worked to make sure that privacy will never be put at risk. The survey will be administered by Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen of St. Catherine University. She and her team will be the ONLY people with access to survey results, so companies will not be able to view responses from their employees. Dr. Dahlen and her team will aggregate the results to share an overview of the industry that protects the privacy of individual respondents while still giving us a full picture of racial, gender, and disability diversity among publishing employees.
1,500 Petition Signatures
To encourage more publishers to get on board, we created a Change.org petition for the survey. We’re thrilled to share that the petition already has over 1,500 signatures! If you haven’t taken a minute to sign yet, now’s the time.
Our immediate goal is to get the big publishers on board – without them, the statistics we’ll derive won’t be representative of the industry. Help us by spreading the word, signing the petition, and sharing. Together we can chip away at institutionalized discrimination and create a more diverse, healthier, alive-and-thriving book industry.