Finalist for Business in the Community's Unipart Outstanding Employment Award 2019.
Penguin Random House: Making publishing more inclusive by breaking down barriers to entry
- 450 work experience placements a year – all fully paid and allocated at random
- 13.6% of new joiners in 2017 were BAME
The UK publishing industry is not as representative of society as it wants to be. A Publishers Association survey found that the average employee is female (63%), white (87%), university educated (83%) and disproportionately from London or the South East (34%)1.
Penguin Random House’s mission is to connect the world with the stories, writing and ideas that matter. The lack of diversity prompted Penguin Random House to take action, so that the type of books it published better reflected society and its consumers. By 2025, it wants its new employees and authors to reflect UK society. It will target young people, specifically those from BAME and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
“As a publisher, the books and stories we put out into the world have the power to ultimately shape the culture of the UK. That’s why it’s crucial that we represent a wider range of perspectives, communities and experiences than we do today.”
Tom Weldon, CEO, Penguin Random House UK
Annually, it offers two-week work experience placements to 450 young people – placements that are now fully paid and allocated randomly. With The Book Trade Charity, Penguin Random House subsidises a flat for those travelling from outside London, who might struggle to afford accommodation in the capital, in addition to sponsoring The Spare Room project, which connects those doing work experience with free accommodation.
These changes have helped to break down the barriers to gaining work experience and have created a talent pipeline that is more representative of the UK.
Penguin Random House’s flagship programme, The Scheme, is a positive-action programme for BAME and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Last year it offered ten six-month traineeships in editorial, with seven of the schemers going on to further roles with Penguin Random House.
The company runs interactive workshops, known as JobHacks, across the UK. So far, 300 young people have participated in 12 JobHacks. Meanwhile, 700 PRH staff have taken part in unconscious bias training. The changes are having an impact on the make-up of the PRH workforce; 13.6% of joiners in 2017 were BAME.
- The Publishers Association: Inclusivity Action Plan. Available at publishers.org.uk
Unless otherwise stated, information in this impact story was supplied by Penguin Random House.