Diversity and Inclusion
At Atlantic, we strive to make our publishing as reflective of society as possible. That speaks to both the books we help put out into the world, but also our staff and network of contacts we speak to on a daily basis: from copyeditors to designers, animators to reviewers.
In June 2020 we set up a committee to discuss areas where we were failing readers and ourselves, and isolated the following areas of improvement which we presented to the Atlantic board:
- Demystifying publishing outside of the London middle class: outreach to schools and universities
- A wider pool of authors reflecting a myriad of backgrounds and experiences
- An opaque structure: how to retain and promote talent
- A more diverse workforce needed
A Diversity and Inclusion Officer was then appointed at the end of 2020 to facilitate ongoing change in the company. Together with the MD, they have met at least once a month since to work on the areas identified by the committee to ensure that lasting change is implemented from the top-down.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of actions that we’ve taken so far.
We understand that this is a lifelong task, and one training session cannot fix systemic problems within our industry. We must, therefore, embed antiracist practises within the business. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Unconscious bias training with Creative Access – carried out March 2021
- Individual responses to the Black Agents & Editors’ Group’s list of 15 questions to ask yourself – discussed in departmental meetings
- We carried out an anonymous staff questionnaire to gather data on background and experiences, with data accessed and processed by an external HR function, so that we may better understand the ways in which we do not represent the general population, and be able to track our progress in this area
- Our staff handbook is being entirely revised, including non-Christian holidays, equal parenting leave, baby loss and menopause policies
- Job descriptions will contain starting salary and mention of reasonable adjustments
- We are using Creative Access and Kick Start to hire our interns and assistants, and will advertise our more senior roles via platforms such as diversifying.io. By the start of 2022, 10% of our entire workforce will have been hired through Creative Access or Kick Start
- Blind CVs will also be considered for junior roles where we are not working with a third party
- Flexibility working from home – more accessible and inclusive, with less emphasis on London as the geographic centre of publishing
- Staff were encouraged to fill out the Book Careers salary survey. Upon receipt of the data, we will look to implement salary transparency in line with GDPR parameters
At a departmental level:
- We have carried out two internal audits to better understand our authors’ backgrounds. We will be implementing an external audit based on the Publishers’ Association recommendations in Spring 2022, and will feed back data to the Black Writers’ Guild
- Hiring sensitivity readers for specific projects
- Working with the Independent Alliance to formulate a freelancer database for marginalised creatives
- Ringfenced marketing spend for marginalised authors and spending money with a wider variety of media and platforms
- We have been working with the National Literary Trust, taking part in school initiatives to promote literacy via the Connecting Stories and the Words for Work projects
- We aim to target secondary schools and higher education (COVID-allowing) by having an annual presence at state-school sixth-form trade fairs and working in partnership with non-elite universities to offer two-week paid work experience
The Diversity and Inclusion Officer also attends monthly meetings with the Independent Alliance Diversity and Inclusion committee.