Two years ago Hugo Setzer asked me to become the IPA’s Presidential Envoy for Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in our industry. As the term of President Setzer is over my D&I envoy appointment also comes to an end but my work on this topic at IPA is not done. Time for a reflection on the last two years before I look at the future.
So, what has been achieved on the D&I front? First the IPA leadership itself. We certainly saw diversity there! The coming two years the IPA will be under the leadership of President Bodour Al Qasimi, finally a female president again, (too) many years after Ana Maria Cabanellas’ presidency, and the first president from the Middle East. Our new Vice President will be Karine Pansa, so strong female leadership at the top, and certainly ticking the gender diversity box. YS Chi was not long ago the first Asian IPA president and I, as far as I know, the first out president from the LGBTQ community. The IPA leadership diversity was explored well in the D&I panel for Publishers Without Borders with President Bodour Al Qasimi.
Diversity comes with many different lenses: gender, race & ethnicity, sexuality, disability, age, etc. Many of these lenses on diversity are well covered in the key surveys that track progress (or lack thereof) in diversity in our industry. The leading surveys in our industry are from the UK and the US and show progress on gender, with gender equality at the executive and senior level, but much more to do around race and ethnicity: in the Global North the publishing staff is very ‘white’, much more so than one would expect from the racially mixed cities where most leading publishers are located. Gender in publishing has been supported enthusiastically by Bodour’s PublisHER movement.
Triggered by the Black Lives Matter movement, race and racism was high on the agenda at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair’s Diversity Panel, and also at the Beyond the Book Cast on Race and Ethnicity in Academic Publishing with a deep dive on Elsevier. A message of hope where all positive change starts with a meaningful dialogue and therefore lots of emphasis on courageous conversations around race and racism.
We have seen significant progress on LGBTQ rights around the world and that is also reflected on the sexuality lens on diversity. In the above mentioned publishing industry surveys we see that the LGBTQ community is well represented in publishing with many active Pride employee groups across the globe.