We believe our industry and the books we publish should reflect the rich diversity of the society in which we all live. 

This isn’t just about doing the right thing. For us, more diverse publishing is not just a moral imperative but makes good business sense too, enabling us to reach the widest and most diverse readership.  

Over the last few years we have found new ways to break down barriers, both for authors and for future publishers - but we know we still have more to do. We – along with the rest of the publishing industry – need to make greater and faster progress in addressing inequalities in our industry and ensuring our publishing is truly representative.

In July 2020 we shared a new accelerated inclusion strategy to outline some of the ways in which we are trying to do this. Read this strategy, ‘Books for everyone, by everyone,’ here. 

Our progress so far

Over the past few years we’ve focused on the following areas of focus in our work to become a more inclusive company.

Representation in all teams, at all levels

We’re working hard towards our company-wide goal for our new hires and the authors we acquire to reflect UK society by 2023.

That means each year we publish data on the make-up of our newly hired employees and newly contracted authors, including on ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background. We compare that to the most recent UK census data. You can find our most recent data here.

You don’t need a university degree to work at Penguin

A number of years ago we removed the requirement for a degree for all our jobs, because we recruit on talent and potential, not qualifications. Each year we also offer a paid editorial internship, The Scheme, for candidates from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and from 2021 will be expanding this to other departments including Marketing, Publicity and Design. 

Over 800 young people have taken part in careers workshops so far in 2020

Removing barriers is important, but to truly make sure we’re recruiting people from a wide range of backgrounds we also need to energise and excite people about a future career in our industry. We run regular interactive workshops for young people across the country who may never have considered a career in publishing before, designed to bring to life the different roles and opportunities available.

All our internships and work experience placements are fully paid

One of the key routes into the publishing industry is through work experience. In recent years we’ve transformed our work experience offer. Each of our 450 annual two-week placements are fully paid, and we offer subsidised accommodation for those joining us from outside London. We’ve also banned personal referrals.

Creating a culture where everyone feels they belong

We want people to do the best work of their lives at Penguin. For that to happen, our colleagues need to feel they can belong and can truly be themselves at work.

From hosting unconscious bias training sessions, to training a network of employee ‘Guardians’ to act as confidential sounding boards to colleagues on any concerns they might have, we’ve made a number of changes.

Empowering colleagues to connect with one another, inside and outside of work

We support and fund the creation of colleague-led communities and networks. This includes Colour[full], our community for people of colour; Penguin Parents; our LGBTQIA community; and Be Well, our mental health and wellness network.

Creating a level playing field for parental leave

Our equal parental leave policy employees means that all colleagues who become parents are eligible to take up to 12 months off, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or how they become a parent (birth, adoption or surrogacy). This means that male, non-binary and transgender colleagues are able to take exactly the same amount of time off as female colleagues, with the same entitlement to 25 weeks at full basic pay.

Offering support and guidance through inclusive practices and policies

As a Stonewall Diversity Champion, we use their expert guidance to support our LGBTQIA colleagues, including launching a new policy on transitioning at work. Other policies which we have in place include our Menopause at Work policy, a Flexible Working Policy and a Dignity at Work policy.

Books by everyone, for everyone

Books are a portal to enter new worlds, to inhabit someone else’s shoes, to open one’s eyes to new perspectives. We believe that it has never been more important to hear – and publish – diverse voices.

Nurturing new writing talent

Over 700 writers have taken part in WriteNow, which aims to find, nurture and publish new writers from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves, since its launch in 2016 – all receiving personalised one-on-one feedback on their work from our editors. Of that group, more than 30 writers have joined our year-long editorial programme, and to date we’ve offered 12 publishing deals (and counting…)

Likewise, our annual #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize looks to find the best writer of a new generation and find a new work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry to publish.

Supporting new illustrator talent to help all children see themselves in stories

We joined with other children’s publishers to invest in Pathways, an illustration programme for talented and ambitious artists from diverse backgrounds: an opportunity both for publishers to discover exciting new talent, and for illustrators to gain practical skills, experience and support.


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