Author & Illustrator Inclusivity Survey – your questions answered

Why are we collecting this information?

At Penguin Random House UK our aim is to become a more diverse and inclusive publisher and employer. We want our new hires and the books we acquire to reflect the rich diversity of UK society by 2023.

To achieve this goal we are taking action in a number of ways, including removing the need for a university degree from all our jobs, offering paid work experience placements and training colleagues on inclusive language and allyship in the workplace. Through our WriteNow programme we are also working with regional writer development agencies to find, mentor and publish talented new writers from under-represented communities across the country.

To understand whether our actions are making a difference we need to have a measurable way of tracking our progress – which is why we are asking authors and illustrators for personal information including their gender, ethnicity and sexuality.

You can read more about our inclusion strategy and progress here.

What specific questions are asked?

The process of capturing this information directly from authors and illustrators, and the questions we ask, are based on best practice from expert orgainsations such as The Business Disability Forum, Stonewall and The Social Mobility Commission. 

The survey is an online questionnaire which includes a number of standard questions that are regularly included on similar forms regarding ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and disability. 

We have also included two questions to measure social mobility, asking for information about the kind of school attended and eligibility for Free School Meals. 

What will happen to the author’s or illustrator's personal data?

When an author or illustrator completes the questionnaire online their answers will at no stage be attributed to them individually and they will not be asked to submit their name or details of their book.

The data will then be collated by a central team within Penguin Random House UK through our approved survey provider. The team will analyse and aggregate the data for publication on an annual basis. All data will be stored confidentially and securely.

What data will be published?

We will publish data annually for both our acquisitions and new hires on our website, www.penguin.co.uk. The only data released will be the combined figure for Penguin Random House UK and will not include any individual’s specific data. The data will include statistics on gender, ethnicity, social mobility and sexuality, which will be presented alongside total UK population statistics (using figures from the most recent national census).

Which authors and illustrators will be sent the questionnaire?

The survey will be sent out to all authors and illustrators who receive a new contract from any Penguin Random House UK imprint. This includes authors who we may have published in the past, if we are renewing their contracts. This will also apply to authors based overseas where we acquire UK rights.

What if an author doesn’t want to participate?

Taking part in the questionnaire is entirely optional, and authors and illustrators can choose to complete only the questions they feel comfortable answering.

Will this change your acquisition standards?

 No. This isn’t about imposing a quota system or changing our acquisition standards. Instead this is about measuring the impact of our actions over time to help make our company more inclusive and representative of the society we live in.

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