In response to the article published in the Spectator last week, ‘When Diversity Means Uniformity’, I would like to challenge the assertion that diversity means either a dilution of quality or a uniformity of output. We, at Penguin Random House UK, firmly believe that giving a platform to more diverse voices will lead to a greater richness of creativity and writing rather than stifling them.
Talent and diversity are not mutually exclusive. Our goal for our new employees and authors to reflect UK society by 2025 is an ambition, not a quota. This is not about publishing writers purely because of who they are or where they come from. We publish – and will continue to – on talent first and foremost.
However, it is widely acknowledged that some authors face more barriers than others in getting published. Through our efforts to make our books more representative we are casting the net wider to catch the voices which may have been missed.
This isn’t just about doing the right thing. After all, we are a commercial business, not a charity. A business that is built on connecting stories and ideas with audiences all over the world. For us, publishing more diversely is not just a moral imperative but a commercial opportunity, enabling us to reach new and different readers.
Our founder Allen Lane launched the paperback in the 1930s in order to make great writing accessible to everyone and, in doing so, democratised literature and revolutionised publishing forever. We remain true to that vision today.
Books are a portal to enter new worlds, to inhabit someone else’s shoes, to open your eyes to new perspectives. In a world which is becoming more and more polarised and where we increasingly exist in echo chambers, it has never been more important to hear – and publish – different voices.
CEO, Penguin Random House UK