From Publishing Perspectives:
In two memos to staffers, the Big Five publisher Macmillan in New York City has signaled a substantial change in its management arrangement.
The effort is described by CEO John Sargent as “an exercise in changing power dynamics, and in making sure we have diverse perspectives in the decision-making process.
“We will make better decisions,” Sargent says, “if our company structure is more representative of the world around us, and we can only do that if we align recruitment, training, and retention with our day-to-day business decisions.”
And with that, Sargent is unveiling an approach that could resonate with other companies, establishing one model of how to start making the American publishing industry something that more accurately reflects the multicultural range of the United States’ market itself.
. . . .
In his introductory memo, Sargent is announcing that he is stepping back “from day to day management to make room for new voices.”
And to that end, he–with Don Weisberg, president, and COO Andrew Weber–have put together a 13-person group of leadership players “who will meet regularly to decide on the key issues for Macmillan Publishers.”
Sargent writes, “The committee will form a different and more inclusive management team, representing a wider range of experiences.”
He goes on to say, “This level of change is difficult, but I believe it is necessary. For some in the company this will be challenging, while others will see tremendous new opportunities. For the company as a whole I am confident that this will make us better and more capable in the years ahead.”
. . . .
“We need to change as a company. We need more diversity in the titles we publish, more committed positioning and marketing of these titles, more hiring and promotion of diverse staff, more inclusivity in the decision-making process, and more open dialogue throughout the organization.
“As John [Sargent] mentioned [in his memo], we have been planning a new leadership structure, one that fundamentally changes the group of people at the table where key decisions are made concerning our company strategy and priorities.
“An organization that is more representative of the company we need to be for our employees, our authors, and our readers.
“Today we are announcing the creation of the Trade Management Committee. This committee will set the goals and objectives for the publishers, divisions, and departments that comprise US trade and shared services. In order to ensure accountability, the committee will track the progress of key initiatives, including diversity and inclusion across the company and in our publishing programs, and report on results.”
As they’ve put the trade committee together, the two write that they’ve worked for “a mix of publishing, operational, and human resources representatives, which will allow us to tackle the management of the company while ensuring increased diversity across functions. The group will include others on a project-by-project basis and will regularly solicit feedback and support from a broad cross-section of staff from throughout the organization.”
One technical point that Sargent has made in his own memo: “This new management group will focus on running the overall company. The publishing houses will remain as independent companies, and the publishers will continue to report to Don directly.”
Link to the rest at Publishing PerspectivesColor PG skeptical10
Here is PG’s stereotypical profile of the ideal minority hire for Macmillan or any other large NYC publisher.
- Appropriate skin color or surname
- Mother is a Wall Street lawyer and father is a heart surgeon
- Attended one of a short list of academic institutions located in the Eastern United States
- Achieved a B average (At these institutions, that would place the hire in the bottom 20% of the class, but every graduate with better grades can easily locate a job that pays much more than a traditional publisher will. Besides, it’s the name of the institution on the diploma that counts, not what the applicant did or didn’t do (or smoked) while hanging around campus. Any major will do, although it’s a plus if the major was an ethnically-trendy term followed by the word, “Studies”)
- Either shows or cleans up nicely
- Doesn’t mind being placed in any photo of a group of employees intended for the publisher’s website. Willing to spend time (with pay) being photographed sitting at a conference table making a profound gesture or standing at a whiteboard pointing to a pie chart.
- Is willing to have the PR department write a quote attributed to them for inclusion in the publisher’s annual diversity report, for example, “Working at Macmillan has allowed me to reach my full potential without abandoning my ethnic and cultural roots.”