Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins Announce Diversity Roles

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Two leading US publishing houses independently announce new directorial appointments focused on workplace diversity and inclusion.

In Manhattan’s Central Park on West Drive, August 22. Image – iStockphoto: Christine McCann

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Publishing and Its Marketplace
Within an hour of each other today (September 15), two Big Five publishers in New York City have announced newly created diversity-focused directorial positions.

At Simon & Schuster, president and CEO Jonathan Karp has issued a memo to the workforce, introducing Amanda Armstrong-Frank in the role of director of workplace culture and diversity initiatives.

And at HarperCollins, senior vice-president in human resources Diane Bailey has named  Gisselda Nuñez to the role of vice-president for diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Both companies, of course, carry major influence on the international stage.

And both appointments are being made amid intensifying international focus on how publishing’s output—and its companies’ employees and leadership—can better reflect the complex and deeply multicultural nature of contemporary society and the consumer base.

Many challenges involved were addressed in the Aspen Institute’s “Changing the Narrative” discussion, and the debate continues to draw energy from the summer’s demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter and protests against police violence, systemic racism, and pervasive inequities in contemporary life.

Simon & Schuster: ‘A Reliable Sounding Board’

In her new role, Karp writes to Simon & Schuster’s staff, Armstrong-Frank is to report both to him and to Marva Smalls, the executive vice-president and global head of inclusion for S&S parent corporation ViacomCBS.

Amanda Armstrong-Frank

Armstrong-Frank, he writes, “will have the benefit of direct access to the many resources of the office of global inclusion under Marva, bringing to Simon & Schuster a wealth of  perspective and expertise to combine with her own deep understanding of Simon & Schuster’s employees, our culture, and challenges particular to the publishing industry.

“Amanda will be an agent for change,” Karp writes, “who will advise, advocate, and act to improve workplace culture, including diverse representation at all levels. She will partner with me in helping to facilitate conversations and access to senior management, building targeted development programming and expanding management participation in our extensive recruitment outreach to pools of BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] talent.”

Armstrong-Frank’s brief includes developing with human resources “much-anticipated diversity and inclusion training” for “all Simon & Schuster employees annually,” Karp writes, “and as part of new-hire onboarding to support a culture of awareness, inclusion, and psychological safety from Day One.

Marva Smalls

“Of course,” he writes, Armstrong-Frank “will ensure that our very active diversity council continues to play an important role in the life of the company by encouraging the engagement of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other employees from diverse backgrounds, and by drawing the attention of senior management to critical issues of concern.”

Armstrong-Frank’s background includes service on the publisher’s diversity council since 2005, management of the company’s “associates program,” which Karp calls “an important pipeline of diverse talent, and mentoring. She has been with the company since joining sales in 1994 and has worked in managerial roles in business operations, customer programs, and advertising.

“She has long been a reliable sounding board,” Karp writes, “and in recent months has generously shared her insights and wise counsel, helping us gain valuable perspective and envision a better way forward for Simon & Schuster, with a workplace culture befitting our place as an industry leader.”

HarperCollins: ‘Diversity, Equity, Inclusion’

In announcing Gisselda Nuñez’s appointment, HarperCollins’ Diane Bailey writes that Nuñez will report to her “with a dotted line to members of the US Trade Executive Committee” on which she’ll have a seat.

Gisselda Nuñez

Nuñez is making the move to her new berth from more than 16 years with Morgan Stanley, where she’s most recently worked as executive director of human resources and head of diversity strategy for North America. Her BA from SUNY at New Paltz included a major in accounting and a minor in women’s studies. She also holds a certificate in diversity and inclusion from Cornell.

Advising the company on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and leading them, Nuñez’s responsibilities, Bailey writes, “will include partnering with our recruitment team on strategies and best practices; leading our diversity, equity, and inclusion learning and development program; overseeing the New York diversity and inclusion committee; partnering with executives and stakeholders throughout the business to drive decision-making and engagement; and acting as an advocate of change management in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Nuñez is to move into her new post with HarperCollins on Monday.


More from Publishing Perspectives on issues in diversity and inclusivity in the international book business is here and more from us on women in publishing is here. More from us on Simon & Schuster is here and more on HarperCollins is here

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About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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