Lee & Low’s 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey

Lee & Low Books released their 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey results yesterday, and if you haven’t taken some time to go over the results yet, you should. There are several interesting takeaways from this survey, including a statistically significant changes in the number of people who identified as straight/heterosexual or disabled. The major thing that stuck out to me was this line from the results:

There is no discernible change to any of the other racial categories. In other words, the field is just as White today as it was four years ago.

It was a blow to read that, but it only reinforced my resolve to continue the work that we do at Rich in Color to promote books by BIPOC authors. As many people have pointed out on Twitter already, it’s little wonder that publishing makes the missteps it does when the demographics look the way they do.

But there’s some good news in the results! The brightest spot in this survey for me was the breakdown for the interns:

Interns are significantly more diverse than the industry as a whole: Of the interns surveyed in 2019, 49 percent identify as BIPOC; 49 percent are on the LGBTQIA spectrum; and 22 percent identify as having a disability. These numbers are a dramatic departure from the overall industry numbers and signal a new, more representative generation of entry-level publishing staff. The question is whether many of these interns will be retained and promoted, or whether they will burn out or leave publishing for other reasons before their presence can truly change the industry.

We’ve retweeted some great commentary from others on these results. There are a bunch of great conversations happening online regarding publishing salaries, resistance to remote work, and how creating a diverse workforce can’t just happen at the lowest levels of the industry.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for the future posts Lee & Low Books will be doing regarding the survey results. In the meantime, what do you think?

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