FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We Need Diverse Books Announces Rise Up: Retention Program for Diverse Mid-Level Publishing Professionals
March 9, 2022
Washington, DC — We Need Diverse Books is excited to announce the launch of the brand new Rise Up: Retention Program for Diverse Mid-Level Publishing Professionals, inspired by the Diversity Baseline Survey (2.0) that was released by Lee & Low Books in 2019. The survey’s data highlights the importance of retaining diverse mid-level publishing professionals since many leave the industry within three to six years, due to barriers like toxic workplace environments, lack of room for career growth, and unsustainable pay. We Need Diverse Books recognizes all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA+, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Learn more and apply to join Rise Up on our website.
The WNDB Internship Grant Program, a precursor to this initiative, began eight years ago to award supplemental grants to interns from diverse backgrounds to help further their goals of pursuing a career in children’s book publishing. In 2021, the program widened its scope to include adult publishing. While WNDB has helped more than 50 interns find full-time work in both adult and children’s publishing via our Internship Grant program, we recognize the urgency to support diverse mid-career professionals so that we retain their expertise in an industry where marginalized voices are needed more than ever.
Rise Up will include a community platform for diverse mid-level adult and children’s publishing professionals to connect, share resources, and join in virtual meet-ups based on interest on a private Discord server, which will be facilitated by WNDB. Rise Up will also include a virtual professional development webinar series in 2022 for diverse mid-level publishing professionals. In creating this initiative, WNDB gathered input from our mid-level Internship Grant alumnx, the Internship Grant committee members, and the larger WNDB community who work in the publishing industry to launch a program that will support the diverse mid-level professional community.
“Issues of retention for diverse folks in the industry are nothing new. Our community partners, such as Lee & Low Books, POC in Publishing and Latinx in Publishing, have been raising these red flags for years,” said Chelsea Villareal, Internship Grant Senior Program Manager. “I’m incredibly proud of the Internship Grant Program team and its grant recipients, but can we keep our grantees in publishing? Honestly, we’re relying on these folks to help build and be the next wave of leadership in the industry. It’s our hope that this new program’s contributions can help support and sustain not only our grantees, but diverse mid-level professionals at large.”
WNDB has built this program in partnership with Beacon Press and Hachette Book Group and the two publishers will serve as sponsors for 2022.
“We jumped at the chance to partner with WNDB when they expanded their internship program to include adult publishing last year,” said Sanj Kharbanda, Associate Publisher at Beacon Press. “But as we all know it isn’t enough to just hire diverse candidates at the entry levels. As an industry we need to ensure we continue to provide ways for development of professional skills and to create pathways for growth. Beacon is thrilled to join WNDB in the new mid-level retention program and will continue to work with them to find ways to help our industry represent the world we live in.”
Carrie Bloxson, VP Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Hachette Book Group, said, “Representation matters, particularly at senior levels in our industry, and we are excited for the opportunity to prioritize retention of talent through this partnership. I’m very pleased for Hachette to join forces with We Need Diverse Books in creating opportunities for traditionally underrepresented employees to see themselves on the path to leadership positions in publishing.”
Rise Up will launch its Discord server in late spring for new members. The virtual webinar series will hold events throughout the year. Each webinar will be hosted by a WNDB industry partner and will focus on a specific topic and will feature experienced professionals in the publishing industry. A Q&A will be included for each webinar, with follow-up feedback forms so the program can build towards the attendees’ needs and queries. In the future, Rise Up may also open up the opportunity for in-person networking events and workshops when it is safe to do so, pending COVID-19 restrictions.
“Diversifying children’s book publishing is about more than bringing new people into the industry—it’s about providing support for those folks as they pursue their careers,” said Kandace Coston, Rise Up Coordinator and Chair of WNDB Children’s Internship Grant Committee. “As young professionals learn and grow, they may need different mentors and programs to be successful. It’s imperative that mid-career publishing professionals have access to a community that provides these resources.”
About We Need Diverse Books. We Need Diverse Books is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that runs twelve exciting initiatives united under one goal—to combat systemic racism and oppression by creating a world where everyone can find themselves on the pages of a book. Established in 2014, WNDB strives to support and amplify diverse literature by mentoring marginalized creators, providing resources to diverse publishing professionals, and donating diverse books to schools and libraries nationwide. Learn more at diversebooks.org.
About Beacon Press. Beacon Press is an independent publisher of serious non-fiction. Founded in 1854 their books often change the way readers think about fundamental issues; they promote such values as freedom of speech and thought; diversity, religious pluralism, and anti-racism; and respect for diversity in all areas of life.
About Hachette Book Group. Hachette Book Group (HBG) is a leading trade publisher and a division of the third-largest trade and educational publisher in the world, Hachette Livre. HBG is made up of eight publishing groups: Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Audio, Little, Brown and Company, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Orbit, Perseus Books, and Workman Publishing. HBG is committed to representing diverse voices in all aspects of business, and a culture of inclusion, providing an equitable and welcoming environment for all employees.
Alaina Lavoie, firstname.lastname@example.org