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An update on HBG’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts (March 2022)

Carrie Bloxson, VP Chief Diversity Officer, shared the third in a series of annual reports on HBG’s progress toward diversity, equity and inclusion.

“DEI is about our employees—talented, passionate people, each with their own perspective, interests and experience—who help us achieve our mission to publish great books well. It’s also about the books we publish and the authors who create them.

While there is no single data point that captures the range and dimension of an employee’s experience, we are committed to making sure that employees from all backgrounds feel like valued members of HBG.

As we begin 2022, I want to restate our commitment to keeping ourselves accountable to the steps we’re taking toward building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace—one that results in long-term and sustainable positive impact. The metrics in this report are the key indicators of our progress to reach that goal.”

CEO Michael Pietsch said, “I’m encouraged by our progress toward our DEI goals in 2021. Thanks to Carrie Bloxson’s leadership and her partnering with employees in every area of the company, we launched important initiatives last year that will help us work together to create meaningful change. We certainly have much more to do. I am heartened every day by the commitment to these goals and these principles that I see across our company, and I want to thank every HBG colleague for joining in this essential work.”

2021 Highlights: Staff, Career Advancement, and Publishing.

  1. Overall staff diversity increased by 7.9% compared to 2020.
  2. More than 54% of our new hires identify as BIPOC*, compared to 48% in 2020.
  3. BIPOC employee representation increased at every level, except for Director level, which remained flat.
  4. Acquisitions of titles by BIPOC authors and illustrators increased 16% over 2020 and grew 17% when we look at BIPOC authors and illustrators new to HBG.

*BIPOC = Black, Indigenous, (and) People of Color

HBG diversity data points May 2021

Leadership

Diversity either grew or remained flat at every level. The largest percentage gain was in VP and Above, which rose 52%.

Recruitment and Hiring

We saw an increase in the diversity of our hires in 2021 at 54.2%, up from 47.8% in 2020. We increased the number of BIPOC employees overall by 7.9% compared to 2020. We expanded outreach to more sources for candidates of color. Our HR team held 52 virtual recruiting events in 2021. Over 2,000 candidates attended, and 100 HBG employees participated.

Culture and Retention

We expanded our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in 2021 with two new groups.
HBG’s Employee Resource Groups form around a shared identity (ethnicity, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, etc.) and are a safe space for employees to connect with each other, speak freely, share experiences, and make recommendations for improvements.

HBG’s ERGS: Asian and Pacific American; Black; Employees of Color; Employees with Disabilities*; LGBTQIA+ & Trans and Gender Non-Conforming; Latinx; Non-Majority Religions; Women in Publishing; Parents and Caregivers*

(*new ERGs in 2021)

We provided Diversity & Inclusion Training to all office employees.
We continued training in 2021 with additional custom programming related to unconscious bias and inclusion training for our entire staff.

We formed HBG’s Diversity Advisory Board, a volunteer committee of employees across HBG, whose mission is to advise on, support, and further HBG’s DEI initiatives to improve the company culture, community, and experience of working at HBG.

Publishing

We increased acquisitions of books from BIPOC authors and illustrators.
Acquisitions of titles by BIPOC authors and illustrators increased significantly over 2020, particularly from authors and illustrators new to HBG: 34% of contracts with new contributors were with BIPOC authors and illustrators in 2021, compared to 29% in 2020, and 22% in 2019.
We continue to work toward the most comprehensive and accurate understanding of the diversity of our publishing programs, through surveys where we invite authors to self-identify, and voluntary self-identification questions in our Author and Illustrator Questionnaire for new authors.

Hachette Partnerships

In March 2022 we launched four new philanthropic partnerships designed to support writers and publishing professionals from underrepresented backgrounds. Our partners’ goals align with ours: to make publishing more inclusive, more diverse and more accessible for all, opening up publishing to a far broader array of talents, perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences.

City College of New York

The new CCNY+HBG Associates Program will be a salaried, full-time, full-year work experience at HBG for a recent graduate of The City College of New York Publishing Certificate Program, established in 1998 on the initiative of best-selling author and CCNY graduate Walter Mosley. The newly launched CCNY+HBG Associates Program includes a financial stipend to ease the transition of expenses from college student to employee, as well as career counseling and mentorship, both in the students’ areas of interest and in the job search and interview process. HBG will also continue our longstanding CCNY internship placement program, hosting one to two interns per year with mentorship and career development support.

Hurston/Wright Foundation

Author diversity at major publishing houses has increased in recent years, but white writers still dominate, accounting for 95% of published fiction since 19501. The continuity of Black literature depends on a society that values Black narratives. Hurston/Wright works to build a supportive literary community through author talks, literary salons, and writing classes. With the goal of offering the support and resources to expand the presence of aspiring Black authors, the Hurston/Wright Writers Week Retreat at Rutgers University, co-presented by Hachette Book Group is a 7-Day Summer Writing Workshop which will include writing instruction, workshopping, networking, and craft talks hosted by industry leaders. Two Hachette Fellows will be able to meet with publishing teams across HBG for consultation and mentoring and they will receive instruction and advisement from both Hurston/Wright authors and HBG employees.

1 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/12/11/opinion/culture/diversity-publishing-industry.html

Lambda Literary

No other organization in the world serves LGBTQIA+ writers and readers more comprehensively than Lambda Literary and by supporting Lambda, HBG helps to expand the audience for LGBTQIA+ literature by providing fellowship, professional development, and networking opportunities for aspiring writers. To offset the financial impact of COVID-19 on funding opportunities for Lambda Literary, HBG will fully fund one fellow and offer several scholarships to Lambda’s marquis program, the annual writers retreat which draws LGBTQIA+ writers from across the country and offers coursework across a number of genres. HBG and Lambda Literary will collaborate on additional programming opportunities for the writers retreat, taking place from July 31 to August 5, 2022.

We Need Diverse Books

We Need Diverse Books has recognized that retention in publishing is as important as diversifying publishing. HBG is a founding partner of Rise Up, a Retention Program for Diverse Mid-Level Publishing Professionals, which was designed to support mid-level adult and children’s publishing industry professionals. The Rise Up program will include workshops, panels, resources, skill development and support for diverse publishing professionals to assist in their career development and growth and will include a community platform for mid-level publishing professionals to connect, share resources, and join in virtual meet-ups based on interest on a private Discord server, which will be facilitated by WNDB. The program will help create opportunities for traditionally underrepresented employees to see themselves on the path to leadership positions in publishing.

For more information see Social Impact at HBG.