So reports the BBC on the current state of the publishing industry’s employment climate, especially with regards to minority hires. Minority groups have typically been under-represented in the industry – a situation demonstrated by a 2004 survey commissioned by the Arts Council which found nearly half of those in the profession did not believe it was “culturally diverse”. Even those who have fulfilled their dream of working in the industry are still frustrated about its recruitment methods and attitudes to candidates from atypical backgrounds. Perhaps the disparity between London’s minority population (28%) and those working in London-based publishing houses (14%) indicates the larger problem.
“There are plenty of jobs out there in publishing for which people can apply but for some reason ethnic minorities are just finding it that much more difficult to get in,” says Sandy Officer, a production assistant at Hodder Headline who was taken on by the company on a special 12-month traineeship scheme in 2005 and subsequently securing a full-time job with the firm. “This industry is very much based on who you know and the contacts you have and you only find these contacts if you are already within the industry,” she says. But Penguin‘s Helen Fraser defends those in senior positions from any charges of myopia. “It is not the job of publishers to try and adjust social problems,” she says. “They are, above all, looking for writing talent. You can’t push them out of the way to change the social mix.”