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#PrideMonth2023: LGBTQ+ DEIA - the current scholarly communications landscape

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Two people holding hands with multicoloured pride bangles on their wrists

A diverse and inclusive workforce is vital to creating a thriving scholarly communications community. Is the scholarly communications community where it should be regarding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA)?

London Big Ben

Speakers at London Book Fair earlier this year explored how the STM publishing industry is becoming increasingly diverse. However, there’s still much to be done to create a truly inclusive industry where people can bring their authentic selves to the workplace.

With that in mind, we’re exploring the DEIA developments in the industry in honour of pride month. What are we doing well? Where can we improve? Let’s explore.

LGBT+ in publishing: the statistics

The UK Publishing Workforce diversity, inclusion and belonging survey from 2022 highlighted two key statistics:

  • 15% of workers in the industry identified as lesbian, gay or self-describing their sexual orientation. This number is a significant increase from 8% in 2018 – the largest increase is in those identifying as bisexual. This is in comparison to 3% of the overall population identifying as LGBTQ+ in the 2021 Census.

  • 1% of respondents to the survey were transgender. This aligns with the statistics in the 2021 census.

These signs are promising, but are LGBTQ+ people able to be their authentic selves in the workplace? A 2022 study shared that openly LGBTQ+ academic scientists publish the most out of all of their LGBTQ+ peers. Thus, being open about who you are is crucial to academic and general success in the workplace. Does our workforce create the ability to be open in this way?

According to a study earlier this year from LGBTQ+ young people’s charity Just Like Us, 25% of LGBT+ young adults don’t feel comfortable enough to share their sexuality or gender in the workplace. If this number extends in the industry, are we doing enough to ensure that every person – regardless of gender, race, accessibility needs and age – feels comfortable enough to be themselves?

Is the publishing industry creating a space where all people can enter the workforce and feel comfortable with being their authentic selves?

Diversity initiatives

Knowing where to start can often be the most challenging aspect for many publishers that may not have historically had a DEIA plan. Volunteers at the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion and Scholarly Communications (C4DISC) created resources for organizations to use when creating their own DEIA strategy to take away some of the guesswork.

The Inclusivity Action Plan

Image of the Pride flag in NYC

In January 2023, the Publishers Association released the Inclusivity Action Plan. This is a list of 10 commitments for organizations in the industry to take to become more inclusive over the coming years from 2023 – 2026.

The action plan highlights the following commandments:

1. Develop and embed an inclusivity policy which is set and driven by senior leadership
2. Develop a governance model
3. Commit to data collection and support consistent cross-industry data collection
4. Ensure your output is accessible, authentic and inclusive
5. Ensure all staff participate in inclusivity training or have opportunities to learn
6. Provide opportunities for flexible, hybrid, agile and part-time working
7. Create clear career progression pathways
8. Provide opportunities for mentoring
9. Create opportunities for hiring from under-represented groups
10. Work towards pay equity, including salary transparency

Efforts are already being made in the industry to become more inclusive, with the introduction of sensitivity readers. As explored in London Book Fair, STEM content is now being created using more diverse anatomy models and patients for health titles. In fact, even broader developments like open access are benefitting women researchers.

5 multi colored cubes saying 'PRIDE'

The power to create a more inclusive future

Being an ally means taking an active stance for the rights of a minority or marginalized group without being a member of it.’ – Angela Engel, Publishers Weekly

In truth, the ability to create a more inclusive future for LGBTQ+ individuals rests in our own hands. By confronting our biases and changing our behaviour, we can help to contribute to creating an environment where everyone can feel welcome.

Become a better ally by:

  • Being aware of how you can support your LGBTQ+ coworkers when they come out

  • Challenging any microaggressions towards LGBTQ+ that you see in the workplace

  • Educating yourself on the LGBTQ+ community

  • Staying informed about policy and law changes for LGBTQ+ people

  • Using inclusive language in communications and in how you speak in the workplace

  • Using a person’s correct pronouns when you speak to or about them

The scholarly communications industry is making tremendous progress when it comes to creating a fair and inclusive environment. The industry consists of a mostly female (66%) workforce with a majority in executive positions – an unusual fact in comparison with most other industries. Progress is being made to further create a diverse workforce. The future is bright for a more inclusive industry – as long as we make it that way.

Useful resources and our previous inclusivity articles:


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