Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
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Building Inclusivity in Publishing

Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to speak at this important and timely conference.

The UK publishing industry is unequivocally world-beating. Of the nine books to have ever sold more than 100 million copies, six are by British authors. To top it off, the Nobel Prize for Literature this year was won by British author Kazuo Ishiguro.

However, I am not here to only celebrate success. Today we confront one of the biggest challenges facing publishing: diversity.

From Harry Potter to Never Let Me Go, publishing is our shop window as a nation. That’s why, more than any other industry, it’s essential that publishing reflects the rich diversity of the British people.

But diversity isn’t just a social responsibility, it’s an economic one: drawing on the largest possible talent pool makes business sense.

As you know, there’s still much progress to be made on the diversity agenda: the most recent DCMS statistics show that only 11% of those working in the Creative Industries are BAME; though this is up 15% on 2015, an improvement more than 2 and half times that of the wider UK workforce.

Meanwhile, recent events in the entertainment industry serve as a reminder of the importance of building a Creative Industries workplace where all are treated equally and with respect.

Significant strides towards diversity and inclusivity in publishing have been made in recent years: HarperCollins’s BAME Scheme, Penguin Pride, Little Brown’s new “inclusive” imprint Dialogue Books, to name just a few. These bold initiatives mark a sea-change in diversity in the publishing industry, and I look forward to seeing their outcomes.

But it will take more than individual initiatives to make profound and lasting change to the publishing industry.

That is why it’s excellent to see the PA bringing industry together around this new 10-point Inclusivity Action Plan. The plan addresses a number of potential stumbling blocks to diversity, from unconscious bias to a lack entry level opportunities and strong ambassadorship. Progress on diversity requires us all to do our part: I hope that the PA’s members will do theirs and commit to fully embracing this plan.

Government is doing its part, too, whether that’s role modelling diversity within the Civil Service through our new Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, or by supporting the Creative Industries sector to diversify through the excellent work of the Creative Industries Council.

Diversity is a particular priority for me: next year I plan to host the inaugural DCMS Diversity and Social Mobility Forum, scheduled for earlier this year but postponed due to the Westminster terror attack.At the Forum, heads of industry from sport to tech, media to museums will come together to share best practice on diversity. I hope some of you will join me there.

British people are defined and united by our rich publishing history, of which you are the latest chapter. Yet only by understanding our differences can we truly celebrate what we have in common: our desire to make the UK publishing industry the best in the world.

As the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once said, there’s danger in a single story. The UK has so many stories to tell, but to do so, it must be supported by a truly inclusive publishing industry.

Thank you.


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