When IPA President Hugo Setzer asked me to become the IPA’s Presidential Envoy for Diversity & Inclusion in the Publishing Industry I immediately accepted. It is a topic close to my heart and important for our industry – an importance which will only increase over time.
So what is Diversity and Inclusion (D&I for short) exactly? I like the comparison with the invitations to a party: diversity means that everyone is invited irrespective of gender, ethnicity, age, etc. Inclusion means that everyone is also invited to the dance (or the bar for drinks). To put this more formally an inclusive workplace allows all to be truly themselves, to be valued and through their contribution to help lead the way for others.
There are two important reasons to fully support D&I: there is a clear business case and there is also a moral imperative – it is simply the right thing to do.
I will not go into the details of the business case but studies have shown that organizations that have a gender diverse leadership perform significantly better financially. Companies that embrace ethnic diversity at the top also perform better – even better than the gender diverse companies. And it is not simply a bonus for diversity, there is also a price to pay for non-diversity as non-diverse companies performs significantly more poorly than their peers.
Better financial performance in organizations that embrace D&I is driven by better decision making, more innovation, better staff attraction and retention, higher job satisfaction, and an overall enhanced reputation.
And that also applies to the publishing industry. We face a far more diverse readership and perhaps also authorship than in the past and we can expect that societal changes will only result in more diversity in the future. And publishers that also reflect that diversity themselves will be better prepared for that future.
D&I cannot be seen separate from the societies we live. And in the IPA we have members from all parts of the world active under very different societal circumstances. And it is not surprising that diversity will mean something different in Delhi, than in Tokyo, Frankfurt or Rio. But we do see common themes and also similar challenges worldwide. What we want to achieve by putting D&I more prominently on the agenda at the IPA is to share best practices how the IPA members can address this, and also to better empower the publishing organizations so that they can serve their members, the publishing houses, better in the area of D&I.
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