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As diversity and inclusivity continue to be high on publishers’ agendas, Penguin Random House UK has published its inaugural diversity and inclusion report ‘Books for everyone’. It pledges to make the company more representative of the society in which it sits and in particular to make its leadership more diverse.
The company’s CEO Tom Weldon says: “As a company, our success depends on our ability to connect stories and ideas with the widest possible readership, and is why the commercial case for diversity is clear. After all, diversity of perspective fuels creativity, the lifeblood of a publisher.
“But the need for change is more fundamental than this. Books create belonging. They help us see each other and understand one another. They shine a light on the world. Everyone should have the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the pages of the books they read. For too many people and for too many years the publishing industry has been out of reach.
“At Penguin Random House we haven’t always done enough to make the deep-rooted changes needed. Progress has not been fast enough or sufficiently wide-reaching. At the heart of this issue is the inequality that has existed in society itself for many generations. To be a truly diverse and inclusive publisher and employer we need to recognise and challenge these inequalities and the complex, difficult and systemic issues that have historically helped some while holding others back.
“Alongside driving change within our workplace, we also need to do what we can in the wider world to address inequalities that might be preventing some communities engaging with books and reading in the first place. The change will take time, but we can and must make sure that the legacy we create for the next generation of publishers is an industry that feels, looks, and sounds very different because it represents and reflects the rich diversity of the UK.”
It has announced a three-fold strategy. Firstly, it wants to see representation in all teams at all levels: “Our ambition is for the entire company to represent the rich diversity of UK society, including at senior level.” Secondly, it seeks a ‘culture where everyone can belong’: “A culture where everyone feels able to be themselves at work. This does not mean conforming to any status quo, but ensuring everyone feels safe to voice their ideas and views – as well as feeling heard when they do, because others are willing to learn and listen.”
Thirdly, it talks about ‘publishing books for everyone, saying “Books are a portal to enter new worlds, to inhabit someone else’s shoes, to open one’s eyes to new perspectives. Everyone should be able to see themselves, and their communities authentically reflected in the books they read.”
The report reads: “Our data shows a stark lack of representation at manager level and above for ethnicity, lower socio-economic background and disability. This is difficult to address quickly as we have low turnover rates in more senior positions in our company. We have defined a new senior leadership goal and are overhauling our recruitment and career development practices to help achieve this goal.”
The company adds: “In support of the new 2026 senior leadership goal, a new mandatory recruitment and progression policy will be introduced, aiming to embed inclusive practices into day-to-day behaviour. A dedicated role within the recruitment team to focus on senior hires has also been created. A senior editorial traineeship, open to candidates from under-represented backgrounds, will launch later this summer.”