Author Inclusion Tracker – your questions answered

Why are we collecting this information?

At Penguin Random House UK our goal is to lead the industry to make publishing more inclusive. We want our new hires and the books we acquire to reflect UK society by 2025.

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 to recognise unconscious bias and how it can affect the decisions we make. Through our WriteNow programme we are also working with regional writer development agencies to find, mentor and publish 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.

What specific questions are asked?

The Inclusion Tracker is an online questionnaire which includes a number of standard questions that are regularly included on similar forms regarding ethnicity and disability. Questions on gender identity and sexuality are based on best practice from LGBT charity Stonewall.

We have also included two questions to measure social mobility, asking for information about the kind of school attended and the highest level of education achieved by both the individual and their parents. We have chosen these questions, which are recognised as best practice, because there isn’t currently a standard cross-industry measure of social mobility.

What will happen to the author’s personal data?

When an author or illustrator completes the questionnaire online their answers will be entirely anonymous. They will not be asked to submit their name or any other identifying characteristic.

The data will then be collected by a central Penguin Random House UK, who will centrally collate and publish the anonymised data on an annual basis. All data will be stored securely.

What data will be published?

We will publish data annually for both our new 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 will be sent the questionnaire?

The Inclusion Tracker 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?

Completing the questionnaire is entirely optional and authors can complete only the questions they feel comfortable answering.

Will this change your acquisition standards?

 No. This isn’t about imposing a quota system for each publishing house or changing our acquisition standards. Instead this is about measuring the impact of our actions over time to help make our company more inclusive.

Questions? Please contact Siena Parker, Head of Creative Responsibility: sparker2@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.