The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

BA Diversity & Inclusiveness Policy

The BA is committed to improving diversity and inclusiveness in the bookselling sector, both in the workplace, and in the range of books on bookshop shelves.

The BA is committed to helping booksellers to create diverse and inclusive workplaces, to serve diverse and minority communities with relevant book titles, help and information and to foster a welcoming environment for all customers, regardless of ethnicity, gender, disability, sexuality, socio-economic background, age or faith.  Bookshops should be welcoming spaces for all who love books and offering welcome to all creates a richer environment for all.

Moreover, the BA is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace of its own, and to always consider matters of diversity in all our public and trade facing activities, including (but not limited to) appointing booksellers to our own governing bodies, appointing speakers on panels, using photographs on print and online materials and in the language we use in our communications.
 
We understand the wide-ranging nature of the term diversity as including: 
Ethnicity, Race/heritage/culture, Disability, Sexuality, Gender, Gender Identity, Socio-economic background, Age, Faith


BA Workforce Survey 2024


The BA is proud to publish our second Workforce Diversity Survey, in partnership with EA Inclusion. This year’s survey attracted 275 participants, up from 185 last year, and continues the measurement and analysis of the bookselling demographic in the UK and Ireland. 
 
Despite again revealing that bookselling is relatively un-diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, bookselling continues to be a favourable space for LGBTQ booksellers, and people with neurodiverse conditions, disabilities, long-term health conditions, and mental health challenges.  Over half (58%) of booksellers believe bookselling has an inclusive culture, up from 52% in 2022.
 
The survey is part of the BA’s ongoing and long-term commitment to make bookselling, and the wider book, media and creative industries, more inclusive and representative of all demographics and communities.
 
The key findings of the Survey are:

- 68% of respondents identified as female (vs 51% of the population*), down from 71% in 2022

  • - 8% of respondents’ gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth (vs 1% of the population*), up from 7% in 2022
  • - 8% of respondents identified as being from ethnic minority groups (excluding White minorities) (vs 18% of the population*), up from 7% in 2022
  • - 28% of respondents identified as having a disability or long-term health condition (vs 18% of the population*)
  • - 24% of respondents have a neurodiverse condition (vs 15% of the population [ACAS]), up from 23% in 2022
  • - Almost a third (32%) are currently experiencing mental health problems (vs one in six in the population [Mind])
  • - 64% of respondents had professional backgrounds (vs 37% of the population [Social Mobility Commission]), up from 59% in 2022
  • - 13% of respondents attended an independent of fee-paying school (vs 7% of the population [Sutton Trust and Social Mobility Commission])
  • - The majority of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that they feel included (85%), respected (80%), like they belong (83%) and can be their authentic selves (81%) at work.
  • - A high proportion of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that their organisation values and is committed to diversity and inclusion (80%) and is making progress addressing diversity and inclusion (72%)
  • - Over half (58%) of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that the culture in the bookselling industry is inclusive, up from 52% in 2022

 

Ben Runcorn of EAInclusion, said: “It is great to see the BA running this Diversity Survey again, and we were really pleased to see participation, in both the number of individuals and bookshops taking part, increase significantly this year (+49% and +36% respectively). As a result, we have a more accurate understanding of the broad diversity of those working in bookselling and their perceptions around inclusion, belonging, respect, and being their authentic self at work.”

Read the Workforce Diversity Survey.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Group

The BA has set up an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Group to improve the diversity of the industry and of the bookselling sector, and to increase inclusion, both for booksellers and for their customers.
 
The Action Group will look at both the diversity challenges within bookselling as a career, as well as representation issues around stocking appropriate titles and working with publishers and other partners. The Action Group will help to set the remit for the BA as widely as required.

We are inviting members to get involved in the Action Group, to assist the BA in identifying key goals, help set the agenda for the BA and its membership, and work with the BA to create resources, advice and help for booksellers in this arena. Any bookseller who would like to join our BA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Group should email meryl.halls@booksellers.org.uk to express an interest. 
 

Diversity & Inclusiveness Grants Project

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The Diversity and Inclusiveness Grants Project was launched in 2018, with an unprecedented £50,000 being dedicated over two years to help bookshops deliver practical initiatives to increase inclusivity in their shop or in their community. The goal of the project was ultimately to enable real tangible change in diversity and inclusiveness in bookselling across the UK and Ireland. The third and final tranche of grants were awarded in early 2020.

Projects awarded the grants included: funding for a festival in a marginalised community, wheelchair ramps, writing projects for minority writers, the provision of sensory story time materials for autistic children, the provision of books and conversation for older people in care homes, and several projects to reach young LGBTQ and BAME audiences.

The grants were awarded by a panel invited by the BA to oversee the grant selections, comprising: 
•    Nic Bottomley, BA President
•    Cathy Rentzenbrink, author, former bookseller and former head of Quick Reads 
•    Uli Lennart, manager of Gay’s the Word Bookshop in London 
•    Sharmaine Lovegrove, publisher of Hachette’s new inclusive imprint Dialogue Books

 

Guide to Creating Inclusive Bookshops

View and download our Guide to Creating Inclusive Bookshops below:

 
The Guide aims to inspire booksellers with information on the work going on in the bookselling sector, and to start the conversation about diversity and inclusion in bookshops.  Many bookshops are already very active in this area, and we would love to hear from any booksellers with projects or ideas in this arena.  If you have suggestions for additions to the Guide please do email meryl.halls@booksellers.org.uk 
 

 

Resources & Information


Book Trust
Book Trust are a great source of inspiration and book lists if you are keen to look beyond your normal stock range - they have a keen eye for representation, diversity and inclusiveness in their book choices.

New book reviews https://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/new-books-we-love/ 
Books about refugees https://www.booktrust.org.uk/booklists/b/books-about-refugees-and-asylum-seekers/
Disability https://www.booktrust.org.uk/books-and-reading/bookmark-disability-and-books/
LGBT https://www.booktrust.org.uk/booklists/l/lgbt-ya/
Book Trust Bookfinder https://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/bookfinder/

Children’s Publishers with diverse lists
New Frontier – newfrontierpublishing.co.uk
Alanna – alannabooks.com
Lantana – lantanapublishing.com
Tiny Owl – tinyowl.co.uk
Otter-Barry – otterbarrybooks.com
Gecko Press – geckopress.com
Curious Fox – bouncemarketing.co.uk/publisher/curiousfox
Barefoot Books – barefootbooks.com
Child’s Play – childs-play.com and their list of useful titles 
The Guardian 50 best culturally diverse books - https://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2014/oct/13/50-best-culturally-diverse-childrens-books
Inclusive Books for Children - www.inclusivebooksforchildren.org

BAME publishers and imprints with diverse lists
Books of Africa - booksofafrica.com
Dialogue Books - littlebrown.co.uk/imprint/lbbg/dialogue-books/page/little-brown-books/lbbg-imprint-dialogue
Jacaranda - jacarandabooksartmusic.co.uk
Knights Of - knightsof.media
#Merky Books - penguin.co.uk/company/publishers/cornerstone/merky-books.html
Peepal Tree Press - peepaltreepress.com
Tamarind - penguin.co.uk/puffin/tamarind.html


Other research and guidance
The BA has produced a short guide Dealing with racially-motivated abuse in a bookshop.

For information on diversity and equality legislation in the Equality Act, you can find it all here 

In June 2020, the UK’s first academic study on diversity in trade fiction and publishing calls on industry to “radically reimagine” its audience in the 21st century was released. You can find the full report here and the executive summary here.

If you are interested in finding out more about organizations in the Diversity & Inclusiveness arena, including First Story (who take writers into underprivileged schools), Inclusive Minds (who help create children's books that meet the needs of all readers, including those from minority groups), Letterbox Library (who specialise in selling books that celebrate inclusion, diversity and equality), Creative Access (who place interns within the creative industries), Arts Emergency (who mentor young people from underprivileged backgrounds), a good place to start is a booklet  produced by the Publishers Association,  

You could also look at Business In the Community website, which has lots of useful advice, and a handy pocket guide to talking about race. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the economic case for Diversity & Inclusiveness, publisher Chris McCrudden has created a thought-provoking presentation.

Here's an interesting article by an author about how black girls can be princesses too.

Publishers with active diversity projects for staff have shared those on the PA's website - you can see some of them here.

If you have ideas for materials and resources you would like to see in this section, or questions on this area, in the first instance please contact Meryl.halls@booksellers.org.uk