More Diversity at Publishing Houses
Country: Great Britain
In the working world, short-term placements are an established way of helping young people choose a career. Every year, Penguin Random House UK, too, offers hundreds of young people the opportunity of gaining work experience in the publishing world during a two-week internship. To make it possible for interested people from all sections of British society to pursue these opportunities, the publishing group will pay them the statutory minimum wage from now on. In the past, work experience participants only received expenses; in future, the 450 young people every year will receive a salary of £262.50 per week.
Penguin Random House UK is the first British publishing house to take this step. Interns who are at the publishing house for longer than two weeks are already paid the London Living Wage. In addition, the publishing group will give its trainees access to subsidized accommodation for the duration of their work experience placement through a trial partnership with The Book Trade Charity, in a bid to recruit candidates from beyond London, as well.
"At Penguin Random House we want to be open to the very best talent, regardless of background," says Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House UK. "It is vitally important that the publishing industry reflects the society we live in today." Weldon says that they recognize that only covering expenses for work experience has been a barrier for many young people from pursuing an internship in the past, but that through meaningful and paid work experience, they hope to open the door to the next generation of passionate and creative young people, helping them to establish their careers, and in the process developing a skilled pipeline of future talent.
Penguin Random House UK says the latest announcement is part of a broader program of measures to promote diversity in its ranks. For example, last year it removed any reference to academic qualifications, including degrees, from all recruitment. It also banned all personal referrals and introduced a random selection policy for its work experience program to open up opportunities to the widest possible talent pool. As a result of these measures, the publishing group says that its pool of work-experience applicants now reflects the ethnic diversity both of London and the Britain for the first time. "It's great to see Penguin Random House promoting work experience in such a positive way, giving young people from a wide variety of backgrounds that critical opportunity to experience the workplace," says Peter Cheese, CEO, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. "In particular, they are to be commended for taking a lead on paying young people whilst they gain experience - an example we hope many others will follow."
One of these young people is Sophie Jackson from Lancashire, who recently completed her work experience at a Penguin Random House editorial team. She says: "My work experience with Penguin Random House gave me a fantastic insight into the publishing industry and the different roles that are available," she says. "I also gained practical and transferrable skills for my CV, and some great contacts who were genuinely happy to help me out with questions I had." She adds that the passion and advice from the team and other departments has inspired her to pursue a career in publishing or publicity.
Penguin Random House UK's work experience program runs throughout the year, with opportunities across departments including editorial, marketing, publicity, sales and rights. Participants are provided with an induction, are each supervised by a "buddy," and can thus amass a range of experiences to help them to understand what to expect from working in a publishing house.