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ACP study suggests slightly more diverse publishing industry

The second-ever diversity study by the Association of Canadian Publishers shows some positive change towards a more diverse industry, with seven per cent fewer respondents identifying as white than in 2018.

The 2022 Canadian Book Publishing Industry Diversity Baseline Survey is the second from the ACP’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which published its first survey of the industry’s diversity in 2019. ACP staff shared the results of the survey at a Tech Forum event on February 23, the recording of which is available online via BookNet Canada.

The survey was conducted online between July 5 and September 16, 2022, with the link shared with publishing firms across Canada via email, through publishing associations, and on social media.

The survey saw a bump in participation over the 2018 edition: 439 publishing professionals, 87 of whom identified themselves as heads of firms, completed the 2022 survey, compared to the 372 who completed the inaugural survey. Though there was an increase in self-reporting, the survey still remains a small sample size based on estimates of the Canadian publishing industry workforce.

In addition to a bump in the number of participants, certain groups saw increased representation in the 2022 survey:

  • the number of respondents who identified as white dropped from 82.08 per cent in 2018 to 74.94 per cent in 2022, with almost all individual departments showing an increase in the number of BIPOC respondents, ranging from 7 to 20 per cent;
  •  the proportion of gender-diverse respondents increased from 5 per cent in 2018 to 10 per cent in 2022;
  • 30 per cent of respondents identified as LGBTQ+ in 2022, and the proportion of respondents who identified as heterosexual dropped from 72.30 per cent in 2018 to 60.99 per cent in 2022;
  • the proportion of respondents who self-identified as having a disability rose from 17 per cent in 2018 to 26 per cent in 2022.

The survey also asked respondents to share details of their companies’ diversity initiatives, their salary and remuneration, and their work arrangements (hybrid, remote, or in-person). One statistic that is a significant departure from general Canadian trends is the adoption of remote or hybrid work in the publishing industry: 91 per cent of respondents indicated that their work was remote or hybrid in 2022, with 81 per cent of heads of firms indicating that they planned to maintain remote and hybrid work arrangements.

Although this year’s report suggests that staff at Canadian publishers has grown to better reflect the country’s diversity since the first study was completed, the authors note in their conclusion that the industry is still “mostly homogenous in terms of race,” particularly when it comes to the people in charge.

“The dial has barely moved on heads of firm—those who hold the most influence and power when it comes to hiring diverse staff and implementing DEI initiatives,” the report says.

The report recommends that the survey be undertaken again in three to five years.