Egmont Publishing UK spearheads new recruitment process to improve diversity by design following successful trial

In January 2018, Egmont introduced a new recruitment and selection process with a focus on diversity and inclusivity by removing the requirement for CVs and instead asking candidates to complete an application form based on skills, competencies and experience.

This application form was then anonymised so that the recruiting manager would only be able to select candidates based on a reference number.  This approach was taken to design a way to combat unconscious bias and enhance the diversity of the company. To date the results have been very encouraging with 21% of successful candidates coming from a BAME background. This is a significant improvement on the UK average of 12%[1].

Egmont Publishing UK’s company mission is to inspire all children to be proud readers through a broad and accessible portfolio of inclusive, child-friendly books and magazines.

With only 1.2 million heavy children’s book buyers [2] in the UK and reading for pleasure increasingly competing with social media and streaming services, Egmont’s strategy is focused on broadening the market for books and magazines.  To that end, Egmont has four strands to make its business as inclusive as possible:

  1. An editorial and design commitment to improve the diversity in Egmont’s books and magazines to reflect our society [3] and explore new, creative approaches to hook allchildren on to reading.
  2. A rigorous research-based approach [4] to understanding child development, attitudes to reading books and magazines amongst parents and children, and drivers and barriers to purchase.
  3. A publishing and retail strategy to widen the distribution of Egmont’s books and magazines, making them a convenient and accessible purchase for all families.
  4. A new recruitment and selection policy that eliminates the requirement for CVs or minimum qualifications to address unconsious bias by design.

This new approach to recruitment aims to ensure that 20% of employees are from a BAME background by 2020. It builds on an existing employment policy to encourage diversity, including opportunities for flexible working for all staff at all levels; being a London Living Wage employer; having gender neutral restrooms; and working with Creative Access to identify interns and placements of candidates from a BAME background. In 2017, Egmont was shortlisted for Creative Access’ annual Newcomer Award.

Cally Poplak, Managing Director says: ‘I am thrilled that we can see the immediate impact of our new recruitment process, which has been embraced by all our managers.  Publishing shouldn’t be an exclusive and mysterious club to join but a mirror reflecting and celebrating our diversity, with all welcomed.  As the OECD says, reading for pleasure is more important than wealth or social background to academic achievement; it improves children’s life chances. Therefore, we should do all we can to make the industry that plays a key part in reading for pleasure appeal to a diverse talented workforce.’

Egmont Publishing UK regularly reviews its approach to ensure policies, processes and culture keep pace with changes in our society.

[1] Findings from 2017 report

[2] Nielsen definition: I 16+ p.a.

[3] In 2018 nearly 40% of Egmont UK’s new picture books featured BAME characters, and in 2019 that figure will rise to 50%. Our fiction for older readers and teens featured significant BAME characters in 63% of our new books in 2018, and 59% in 2019.

[4] Research includes: Print Matters More (2016), Print Matters More Project Extension (2017) and The Reading Magic Project (2017)

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