The Glaring Lack of Diversity in the Publishing Industry

In Bitch Media’s article “The Overwhelming Whiteness of the Publishing Industry,” Robyn McGee highlights the glaring lack of racial, ethnic, and gendered diversity in the publishing industry, as well as an absence of non-heterosexual or disabled employees. Much like the technology industry and Hollywood, McGee asserts that the publishing industry is “overwhelming white.” Jason Low of Lee & Low publishers (the largest publisher of multicultural children’s books), devised the Diversity Baseline Survey, which asks publishing houses and journals to report on the diversity of their employees. The results of the survey found that unlike the tech sector or Hollywood, the majority of people working in publishing are white women.

“Overall, according to the survey, the publishing industry is 79 percent white/Caucasian, 78 percent women/cis women, 88 percent straight/heterosexual, and 82 percent ‘not differently abled.’”  

Statistics of African Americans in the industry are pitiful: they comprise only two percent of publishing executives and a mere one percent of book reviewers. Some attribute the lack of racial diversity to lackluster recruiting practices at publishing firms and low paying entry-level salaries. Despite the number of women in executive positions in the industry, Publishers Weekly’s 2015 Annual Salary survey found that there still exists a gender wage gap where the average male makes $71,000 — $19,000 more than the average salary for women. These figures pose real inhibitions for writers of color looking to get published. McGee herself outlines the issues she faced when trying to get her book published in 2006.  

McGee leaves us with a thought:

“In response to #OscarsSoWhite, the Motion Picture Academy of America introduced steps to double the number of female and minority members by 2020. So what is taking publishing so long to step into the realities of multiculturalism? The writing is on the wall.”

How diverse is your industry? What about your organization? What are effective ways of increasing diversity in both your industry and organization? 


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