Hachette UK has been selected as one of The Times Top 50 Employers for Women for the second year running, in recognition of its commitment to gender equality in the workplace. That commitment is part of Hachette UK’s wider mission to be the publisher and employer of choice for all people, through a programme of policies and initiatives collectively known as Changing the Story, which marks its 5th anniversary this year.
Melanie Tansey, Group HR Director at Hachette UK, commented: “We are on a journey to ‘Change the Story’ at Hachette UK. Listings such as this demonstrate that we are changing and show what we can achieve when our leadership, our incredible networks and everyone who works here collaborates on that journey. Upholding gender equality throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been a key focus and as we reimagine the way we work beyond the pandemic, we are committed to ensuring all our women, and indeed all our staff, benefit from a more flexible model.”
Hachette UK recognises this is not the same pandemic for everyone and that there are complex challenges facing women of myriad identities. Diversity and Inclusion is one of the publisher’s four strategic business pillars and mindful of the risks, it has sought both to safeguard gender equality and to accelerate it. It has taken a holistic and intersectional approach underpinned by a focus on mental, physical, environmental and financial wellbeing, with decisive action ahead of government guidance where necessary.
For example, in advance of school closures, the company circulated guidance for parents and carers should formal or informal support diminish. It reduced working hours per day to six focused hours, completion of which rendered taking annual or unpaid leave unnecessary, and suspended core working hours to provide complete flexibility. It explicitly acknowledged noisy and interrupted meetings and recognised the higher risk of burnout among women balancing caring responsibilities.
Hachette UK also launched a Working Families Group, established between its Wellbeing Network and Gender Balance Network. The group, led by three women, provides peer support for colleagues with family life challenges. It gained over 90 members in under eight months and its activities have included a virtual play session for children led by one of Hachette UK’s authors, normalising the use of ‘out of office’ messages to highlight flexible working arrangements, and recommending ‘buddying’ so that colleagues have someone to represent them in meetings where childcare prevents attendance. At the Working Families Group’s suggestion, Hachette UK publishers provided a list of age-ordered educational resources for children at a 70% discount and access to a parent hub.
Ellen Harber and Emma Petfield, co-chairs of Hachette UK’s Gender Balance Network, said: “We are delighted that Hachette UK has earned a place on The Times Top 50 Employers for Women for the second year running. The publishing industry has not yet achieved gender equality, despite having a workforce that is made up of a majority of women employees. We’re proud that Hachette’s leadership team work collaboratively with us to keep gender balance firmly on the agenda, and that these efforts have been recognised by our inclusion on this prestigious list.”
Isobel Akenhead, Krystyna Kujawinska and Liz Gough, co-chairs of the Working Families Group, said: “When we originally wanted to create a Working Families Group at Hachette UK – to improve communication, support and advocacy for the many parents and carers in the business – we didn’t imagine we would be launching it during a pandemic. However, being able to be there, to speak up for parental wellbeing during this crisis, and reminding staff they aren’t alone facing the significant challenges of being a working parent, has felt very important. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved and look forward to continuing our work into the future.”
The Times Top 50 Employers for Women is the UK’s most highly profiled and well-established listing of employers striving for gender equality in the workplace. Run by the charity Business in the Community – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network – for more than a decade, the incredibly competitive process identifies the companies that are making gender equality part of their business strategy and are trying to bring it to life at all levels of the organisation.
Charlotte Woodworth, Gender Equality Director at Business in the Community, said: “COVID-19 has shone a light on how far we have to go on gender equality: by having to pick up things like the bulk of extra caring responsibilities, women have been disproportionately affected by lockdown.
“We congratulate the many employers who have maintained their efforts towards gender equality at this time, often introducing innovative policies to support their workforce during this period. This year’s application process for The Times Top 50 Employers for Women was the most competitive one we have seen in five years. Employers like Hachette UK haven’t forgotten women at work and they are committed to making gender inequality a thing of the past.”