House of Anansi Press and Groundwood Books One-Year Update
Diversity and Inclusion Committee Update - July 2021
In June 2020, House of Anansi Press and Groundwood Books made a commitment to look inwards at our own racial and social prejudices and to combat the systemic lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Canadian publishing industry. To foster this work, we created a Diversity and Inclusion Committee made up of staff from all levels that meets regularly to track and advance our goals, and that serves as a safe space for staff to openly discuss any issues within the company, the industry, and the community at large. Today, in the spirit of accountability, House of Anansi Press and Groundwood Books report on the work we’ve undertaken over the past twelve months.
As an employer, we:
- raised our annual starting salaries, and opened hiring for certain positions outside of Toronto, recognizing that salary and location can act as barriers to diverse job candidates;
- surveyed staff to collect demographic data and feedback about company culture and staff experiences at House of Anansi, which will inform diversity, equity, and inclusion policies going forward;
- created a best-practices hiring guide to help identify and remove potential biases in the hiring process;
- completed an accessibility audit which led to improved accessibility of our physical office space;
- delivered company-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Training focused on unconscious bias, respect and allyship, and creating spaces of inclusivity and belonging in the workplace;
- delivered Management Fundamentals training, which included additional DEI training for middle and senior management;
- planned for further training in 2021 around bystander intervention and anti-oppression training for arts organizations.
As book publishers, we:
- revamped our creator questionnaire to invite creators to share self-identifying information, which will help us to better assess the diversity of our list and identify underrepresented and underserved communities;
- launched a backlist newsletter series specifically focused on highlighting books by diverse creators;
- further examined our publishing process through the lens of accessibility, delivering additional training on image descriptions for our books and our website;
- added a land acknowledgment to our books and planned for additional consultation with local Indigenous communities to deepen our engagement with our acknowledgment.
As community members, we:
- ran two summer sales campaigns in 2020 that helped amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ creators and generated over $10,000 in donations to support the work of The Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), A Different Booklist Cultural Centre, the Indigenous Editors Association, Black Lives Matter—Toronto, and the Glad Day Lit Survival Fund;
- expanded this summer’s sales campaign to help amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, and Asian creators. From June to August 2021 we will be promoting a different catalogue of books each month and donating 10% of their sell-through in the Canadian indie market to a related organization: Glad Day Lit Survival Fund, the Indigenous Editors Association, A Different Booklist Cultural Centre, and #Elimin8Hate.
At House of Anansi Press and Groundwood Books, we recognize that the work to build an improved and equitable workplace is ongoing. Moving forward, we will continue to evaluate our goals and actions. Our aim is to increase the diversity of our workforce and continue expanding the diversity of our books. We believe that a diverse, inclusive, and equitable work environment promotes excellence, allows all staff to reach their greatest potential, and furthers House of Anansi and Groundwood Books’ mission to publish Very Good Books.