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Hachette UK launches ‘Changing the Story: People and Publishing Transparency Report’

Hachette UK has marked the fifth anniversary of its Changing the Story diversity and inclusion programme by releasing the results of its 2021 staff and author censuses in the ‘Changing the Story: People and Publishing Transparency Report’. The report provides a detailed snapshot of representation today, reflects on what has been achieved so far, and reveals some of the new initiatives that will help to address areas of under-representation and shape the next five years of Changing the Story.

David Shelley, CEO of Hachette UK, said: “Our ambition is to reach the widest number of readers, in the widest number of communities, in all the markets we operate in. To do this, we know that we need our company to be as representative as possible of the readers we serve, and for us to publish the widest and richest range of voices.

“Changing the Story has been at the heart of our business for the last five years and we’ve made some progress in that time towards improving representation, but I think it’s important to be open and honest and to recognise that this report shows there’s still a very long road ahead of us. We’ve identified many areas where we want to increase representation and we’re working closely with our employee networks and our publishing divisions to create action plans to expedite further change. By working together, I’m really hopeful that we can make our business even more reflective of the readers we serve. And using these figures as a baseline, we will be able to monitor change and to report on it openly in the years to come.”

Hachette UK’s people census covers gender, gender identity, age, ethnicity, nationality, socio-economic background – including eligibility for free school meals, type and level of education, and parental education and occupation – regional background, sexual orientation, religion or belief, caring responsibilities, neurodiversity and disability. The report also includes a snapshot of Hachette UK’s publishing from 2019 and 2020, based on an author census carried out by its publishing operations team. The authors were asked the same questions as staff, with the exception of caring responsibilities and the addition of country of residence and path to publication. The questions for both censuses were created in collaboration with Hachette UK’s employee networks. Where possible, categories and terms were matched to the UK Census 2021 or based on best practice recommendations from organisations such as the Social Mobility Commission.

The report outlines the key programmes and policies that Hachette UK has introduced since it launched Changing the Story, many of which have been co-created with its eight employee networks that have grown into a formidable grassroots movement since 2016, with more than 1,500 members combined involved in driving change today.

Melanie Tansey, Group HR Director at Hachette UK, said: “This report pays tribute to the tireless work that our employee networks do to support our culture and champion under-represented voices. Their collaboration with our leadership team and our divisions has already delivered so much positive change for our business and I’m looking forward to working even more closely together as we build from this report and co-create ambitious plans to support and develop the most talented workforce in the business.”

Changing the Story in 2022

Hachette UK has unveiled some of its plans for Changing the Story in 2022 as part of the new report, including a major overhaul of its recruitment and outreach practices. The publisher has hired Riccardo Dixon as Head of Talent Acquisition and for the first time in its history, it will have an in-house team dedicated to building more inclusive recruitment and appointments systems and processes. The team will ensure Hachette UK’s vacancies reach the broadest possible range of candidates and support hiring managers to bring a fair and consistent approach to recruitment practices across the company.

In the new year, Hachette UK will also join forces with Springpod to offer a new type of work experience to make publishing more accessible to more young people around the country. It will run a new, fully virtual course called ‘The Business of Publishing’ for up to 1,000 students aged 15 – 18 during February’s half-term, featuring self-directed learning modules, live events and coursework based on a business challenge. The programme will be open for applications from next week and Hachette UK is specifically targeting secondary school or sixth form colleges near its new national offices, schools with a high proportion of students from lower socio-economic groups, and schools with a higher proportion of students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, as these groups are under-represented in its workforce.

Next year, Hachette UK will also reimagine and relaunch The Future Bookshelf, an online creative writing community and open submissions platform for aspiring authors from under-represented groups that was launched in 2017. It is one of 15 different creative writing initiatives run by imprints and employee networks across Hachette UK over the last five years, covering different genres and collaborating with different industry partners.

In 2022, The Future Bookshelf will evolve to become the home for all of Hachette UK’s creative writing programmes. It will hold six varied projects across the course of the year, which will offer new mentoring opportunities and provide skills and support to aspiring authors from under-represented backgrounds, starting with Modern Stories, an open submissions prize for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers of crime and thriller, run by the editorial team at Headline and offering the winner a full publishing contract with Headline. The full 2022 programme will be announced in the new year and be led by Nick Davies, Managing Director of John Murray Press and Patron of Changing the Story, and Rhiannon Smith, Editorial Director of Fleet and Sphere.