Over the last few weeks, the world has been feeling the shockwaves caused by the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests against the continuing racism faced by Black people. Both the Vice-Chancellor of our University and our Chief Executive have spoken of their shock, outrage and anger following Mr Floyd’s death and since then we have been looking hard at our own organisation and at what we can do to oppose racism and champion diversity and inclusion. There is much to be done, but here is our commitment to change.
A commitment to change
We stand with our Black colleagues, authors, researchers, teachers and students, and with Black people everywhere against continuing racism, discrimination and violence. Black lives matter.
As a university press, we believe that we can and should be a strong global voice against racism and for diversity and inclusion. Our publishing can challenge and undermine racism. It can amplify voices too little heard, drive change and progress, broaden horizons and improve understanding by representing, valuing and encouraging diversity.
But we also need to change ourselves. We recognise that neither the Press nor our industry is diverse enough. We are a global organisation and, while almost half our workforce and the majority of our country leaders are from Black, Asian or Hispanic communities, no-one on our senior management board is from those backgrounds. The same is true of our senior leadership team in the US and of some of our group boards too. It is also the case that in universities in the UK and US - home of many of our authors - Black people, Black voices and perspectives are all too often underrepresented.
We need to acknowledge the deep historical roots of racism and the different forms it takes around the world. As one aspect of that, our University is conducting an inquiry into its own links to the slave trade and to the injustices of the colonial period. This history needs to be recognised if we are to address rather than perpetuate the racism it did so much to entrench within our societies and institutions. As the University’s Race and Equality Charter makes clear, responsibility for race equality should be embedded across its institutions.
So, what will we do to become a strong, global voice for change and a champion for racial equality?
Within our organisation we have already taken a number of steps to improve diversity and inclusion, which include a broadening of our recruitment processes. But we want and need to do more to bring the voices and perspectives of a wider range of ethnic groups into our offices, meetings, boardrooms and decision-making.
- improve diversity in our senior management boards
- continue to develop recruitment, promotion and flexible working policies to improve diversity at all levels
- ensure that our colleagues of colour know they are valued and respected and that the contribution they make in all areas of our business is recognised
- listen to and work with our colleagues of all backgrounds to help shape everyone’s experiences of working for Cambridge University Press
In our publishing, we will use our position as a global publisher to raise awareness and drive positive change.
- broaden the scope of our publishing to actively support anti-racism and inclusion
- improve our ways of working to ensure diversity in our images and content and to make sure that what we publish is not restricted by unconscious bias
- continue our initiative to give free access to our publishing on equality, diversity and inclusion at times and in ways where we believe we can have the biggest, positive impact
Beyond our organisation, we will address racism and bias in partnership with others to create real, widespread change across our industry. With other publishers, we have signed
- a ten-point action plan on inclusivity and diversity, including hidden bias assessments within recruitment, annual industry workforce audits, flexible working and mentoring schemes.
- a joint commitment to take a proactive stance against bias, work together to better reflect the diversity of our communities and remove barriers for under-represented groups in our Academic publishing. We will pool knowledge, data and resources to understand who is in our communities, and to ensure that diversity is reflected in those who make decisions during the publishing process. ·
We are under no illusions about the size of the task. Racism – open and ugly, or unconscious yet insidious – is deeply rooted in all our societies. Within the Press, we do not yet have much of the data that will allow us to properly understand the scale of our challenge, to set targets and measure progress. This will not change overnight, but it will change. By October we will have a much clearer idea of the actions we need to take and we will share and report on them publicly.
As our University’s Vice-Chancellor has said: ‘Enough. This must change and we are committed to being part of that change.’