Equality, Diversity, Inclusion: UK and Irish University Presses Vow to ‘EvenUP’

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Seventeen university presses have committed to EvenUP, a new framework to address ‘who we work with and what we publish.’

At the University of Liverpool, the Victoria Gallery & Museum, January 3. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Shiqi Guo

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

Also today: Edinburgh University Press Sees Sales Surpass £4 Million in 2021

Berkery: ‘This Dedicated Group of Publishers’
A new collaborative framework called “EvenUP” has been announced this week for major university presses in Ireland and the United Kingdom—with sharing best practices for equality, diversity, and inclusion as the guiding rationale for the program’s formation.

“EvenUP demonstrates the commitment of UK and Irish university presses to equity, diversity, inclusivity, and belonging in our workplaces,” Tuesday’s (January 11) media messaging says, “in who we work with and in what we publish.”

Regular readers of Publishing Perspectives will recall that in June 2020, during the Black Lives Matter protests in the States and many other parts of the world, the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) made one of the most candid self-assessments in the international industry, acknowledging, “Only with systems of accountability in place to protect and lift up those who have been historically harmed and silenced by our collective inaction will we succeed in dismantling the white supremacist structure upon which so many of our presses and parent institutions were built.

“How to support these efforts sustainably across the industry must be considered a priority for the association, its members, and its executive board as well as the main focus of the equity, justice, and inclusion committee.”

By March 2021, the association was facing what research and communications director Brenna McLaughlin called “our own lack of progress,” and this “despite decades of diversity work, in building a publishing workforce that directly supports equitable knowledge production.” The university presses dubbed themselves, as a sector, “an extremely white industry segment,” an admirably bold and forthright statement.

“The actions our community takes now must be with the understanding of past failure and the intention to effect long-term change in our environment,” McLaughlin wrote at the time. “Anti-racism must become part of the groundwater.”

So it is that the newly formed EvenUP framework arrives this week with both the perspective provided by those past efforts and a set of action points to address what the wider AUPresses consortium has determined had rendered its companies “even whiter than the full landscape” of the publishing context around it.

And the presses involved in the new initiative are, taken together in one list, one glittering cohort for anyone who admires these institutions. These are among the world’s most acclaimed university houses, including the three oldest—Oxford, Cambridge, and Liverpool:

  • Bristol University Press
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Cork University Press
  • Edinburgh University Press
  • Goldsmiths Press
  • Harvard University Press (UK/international office)
  • Liverpool University Press
  • Manchester University Press
  • MIT University Press (UK office)
  • Oxford University Press
  • Princeton University Press (European office)
  • University College Dublin Press
  • University College London Press
  • University of London Press
  • University of Wales Press
  • University of Westminster Press
  • Yale University Press (UK office)
Cond: ‘To Amplify Our Efforts and Hasten Change’

Peter Berkery

Peter Berkery, executive director of the Association of University Presses, says that his organization “applauds the creation of the EvenUP initiative by 17 university presses in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“Increasing equity, diversity, and inclusion in scholarly publishing is of paramount importance because it’s essential to the continued increase and advancement of knowledge.

“AUPresses members’ worldwide stand ready to support and learn from this dedicated group of publishers as we all proceed in this much-needed work.”

Anthony Cond

Anthony Cond has conveyed the news to us. He’s the CEO of Liverpool University Press and tells Publishing Perspectives, “As mission-driven publishers, it behooves all university presses to strive for greater equity in the scholarly and publishing ecosystems.

“Individually, we can all play our part, but by working together we can amplify our efforts and hasten change.”

It’s being stressed that the EvenUP initiative is not meant to conflict with existing member-publisher approaches underway. The new framework is designed, we understand, to complement the work of the Association of University Presses and the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC).

Sharing Surveys, Solidarity

The collaboration between the 17 houses has set out six areas of focus and endeavor, “recognizing that different presses and parent institutions,” media material says, “have their own equality-diversity-inclusion initiatives.”

The idea in working collaboratively, then, is not to override existing programs but “to amplify them,” the new program says.

From Cambridge University Press’ Fifteen Eighty-Four Blog, begun relative to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Our story on its launch is here

The basic action points of the new framework are:

  • “Share best practice for EDI across presses
  • “Commit to using either the AUPresses’ survey tool to collect demographic data, or our own surveys of comparable quality, in order to assess and understand areas in which we can improve, benchmarking across presses where appropriate
  • “Create and share an ongoing program of training and events, including guest speakers, webinars, online symposia
  • “Promote and demonstrate transparency and equal opportunity in recruitment and career progression processes in university presses, including:
    • “Paid internships
    • “Listing salaries/salary bands on all entry level roles and on all recruitment advertising, subject to commercial or confidentiality requirements
    • “Inter-press career mentorship for colleagues from under-represented groups
  • “Work together to raise awareness of career opportunities in our presses with groups that are currently underrepresented in scholarly publishing
  • “Have a designated lead for equality, diversity, and inclusivity in our organizations and have those leads meet regularly
Comments From Press Directors

Sarah Kember

The director of Goldsmiths Press, Sarah Kember, is quoted, saying, “This declaration acknowledges that, like the wider publishing industry, academic publishing needs to change to become more diverse and inclusive.

“We have made some practical commitments as a necessary first step, and I believe that collaboration, including with host institutions and researchers, has the potential to open out scholarly publishing and communications.”

At the Edinburgh University Press, CEO Nicola Ramsey is quoted, saying, “Committing to the principles of equality, diversity, and inclusion is vital to our identity, in terms of who and what we publish as well as the ways in which we recruit and support our staff.”

Manchester University Press’ head of marketing, Chris Hart, says, “I welcome this joined-up commitment from the university press community on equality, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, investigating how we can reduce the barriers that exclude people from participating in scholarly communication and employment—as well as educate colleagues on addressing inequalities.”

Natalie Williams

Natalie Williams, the director (Cyfarwyddwraig) of the University of Wales Press (Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru), says, “EvenUP is an important step for us, as academic publishers, to collectively and publicly commit to making tangible changes toward equity for those who are currently marginalized or unheard.

“By identifying, taking action and sharing where we can do better, we hope to welcome unhampered new contributors across all parts of the ecosystem, which will truly enrich the publishing sector.”

Heather McCallum

At Yale University Press London, managing director and publisher Heather McCallum is quoted, saying, “This is an important collaborative initiative.

“We’re looking forward to working together with our colleagues across the university presses and commit to accelerate change toward broader representation and greater diversity. We hope to reinforce an inclusive and open culture in the broadest sense.”

University of London Press head of publishing Paula Kennedy says “Recent years have shown more than ever that real change within publishing is needed to support greater equity and diversity in organizations and publishing practices alike.

“We look forward to participating in this collaboration with colleagues from other university presses, and these initial commitments are a welcome first step in our journey to facilitate change within academic publishing.”

Mandy Hill

Cambridge University Press’ managing director, Mandy Hill, says, “As university presses, we’re committed to supporting greater equity across academia through more diverse and inclusive academic publishing.

“These principles are a starting point for each of us to make tangible and positive changes that welcome diversity of thought, perspective, and approach to our publishing as well as creating an inclusive environment for our own teams.

“This need not be an area where we compete. Instead, we can achieve greater progress through open collaboration.”

Philippa Grand, manager at the University of Westminster Press, says, “Challenging inequities in knowledge production and in knowledge ecosystems is of utmost importance, and I’m therefore delighted that University of Westminster Press is part of this vital university press initiative.”

And Alison Shaw, the CEO at Bristol University Press, says, “Working together, university presses can make a tangible difference to equality, diversity, and inclusion through our publishing, policies, and processes.

“This shared commitment is a springboard to positive social change.”

A detail of the cover artwork for the Manchester University Press trade catalogue, spring and summer 2022. Image: Manchester University Press (PDF)

More from Publishing Perspectives on university presses is here, more on academic publishing is here, and more from us on diversity and inclusion is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

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 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.