Inclusive Cultures Workshop with literary agencies and publishers
Yesterday Indie Novella was delighted to host a very special workshop on Embedding Inclusive Cultures in Publishing, run by Inclusion and Diversity Specialists, HSM Advisory, which was attended by a wonderful array of literary agencies and publishers, as part of the Diversity in Publishing Partnership initiative. The Zoom-held workshop featured thirty participants from the UK publishing industry all coming together to work collaboratively and leverage their experience and expertise to understand how we as induvial publishers and agencies – and we as an industry – can foster a more inclusive environment that will aid nurture publishing talent from underrepresented backgrounds. As HSM initially reiterated, Inclusion and Diversity has long been on the agendas of organisations within publishing and this manifests in different ways, from diversity metrices to unconscious bias training. However, it is not always clear what actions we are expected to take, or the end-state we are working towards. This is often because Diversity and Inclusion are different things. Diversity is about how we differ from one another, whereas Inclusion is how we navigate those differences to create a thriving, high-performing culture, together. The workshop therefore set to open up conversation between different agencies and publisher so we could hear and learn from each other, in order to understand how to equip the publishing industry professionals to action and embed real change. HSM set out 5 pillars for embedding an inclusive culture in publishing: 1) Overcome Unconscious Bias; 2) Help people bring their whole selves to work; 3) Learn from diversity of thought; 4) Encourage flexibility; 5) Embrace co-creation. When looking at overcoming Unconscious Bias, HSM was quick to flag how latest research demonstrates that standard one-off Unconscious Bias trainings have not been hitting the mark or been demonstrating effectiveness regarding reducing individual biases. In fact, to some such trainings have generated defensiveness. Rather to overcome unconscious bias, it needs to be an empathetic process which provides practical tools to sense check decision and alter the environments in which decisions are made as our biases are not as prevalent. Diversity of Thought honed in on our willingness and readiness to include different voices in discussions at all levels of our organisations and what spaces we create to share idea. This topic generated a really encouraging debate in breakout groups where each agency and publisher gave examples of how such spaces are opening up and sharing their own experiences of initiating opportunities where ideas have been encouraged across all levels of the organisation. Across the different Pillars, we saw discussion and collaboration and the workshop in itself was a place where participants could ‘bring their whole selves’, facilitated ‘diversity of thought’, and most importantly, became a space were we as an industry can champion the concept of co-creation and be open to discussing how think about inclusion and what it means for both those entering publishing and the authors we represent. The Diversity in Publishing Partnership would like to that HSM Advisory and all those who took part in the workshop. We look forward to putting on more through our wonderful partnership with the Arts Council England, and hope this can be the start of a collaborative journey.