Diversity and Inclusion at ECW

We stand unequivocally in solidarity with those who fight for Black rights, Indigenous rights, and the rights of all racialized people, as well as those in the LGBTQ2IA+ and disability communities. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, D’Andre Campbell, and countless others reflect a legacy and culture of white supremacy and settler colonialism. While the magnitude of the reckoning that followed is encouraging, the struggles it addresses are not new. Nonetheless, it has motivated our own reckoning here at ECW.

We acknowledge that the publishing industry is rooted in white supremacy and a number of other destructive ideologies, including patriarchy, ableism homophobia, and transphobia. As a consequence, many important stories have been overlooked or ignored. In publishing books that are predominantly by white authors, we have been complicit in this silencing, and we have to face the hard truth that our support and work for diversity in all its forms is not represented in the books we publish. Thus, as a cultural curator and as an employer, we have spent some time identifying concrete steps we can take to do better.

Our editorial team is committed to increasing diversity in our acquisitions and soliciting more work from under-represented writers. We have begun expanding our editorial team to include more BIPOC acquisitions editors, along with the full financial support for developing titles of their choice. But beyond that, we want to do our part to make writing and publishing more accessible for those who have been historically under-represented so that more stories do not go unheard. Our action plan includes:

  • Making information about publishing and writing more transparent: Facebook and Instagram live streams to allow free, direct access to publishing professionals; a new publishing FAQ on our website to help demystify the industry; a more informative submissions page; a round-up of funding opportunities for writers.
  • Recommitting to our paid acquisitions internship program, which provides acquisitions experience to students and publishing professionals who are Black, Indigenous, and people of colour without having to move through usual editorial hierarchies.
  • Actively seeking out more freelance editors, designers, illustrators, indexers, audiobook narrators, and audiobook directors of colour.
  • Further expanding the Bespeak audiobook imprint with more works from Canadian writers who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and/or disabled. Bespeak showcases the best Canadian writing from today and yesterday.
  • Starting the BIPOC Writers Mentorship Program, which will commit up to $75,000 per year of staff time and freelancer fees to provide editorial support and insight into the publishing business. For more on this program, or to apply, please go here. This program will also give opportunities to BIPOC editors who want to choose and mentor writers.

We also want to make ECW a better place to work, and so we’ve taken several steps to help foster an environment of growth and security and to interrogate our own ingrained prejudices. We want all staff to realize their full potential. Our next steps are:

  • Anti-oppression training for the entire staff, which began with an initial session with an educator/consultant on September 8, 2020. We recognize that this is essential and on-going work and commit to continuing to seek opportunities to provide anti-racism and anti-bias learning to our staff. We will discuss ways to continue this on a regular and frequent basis.
  • Engaging an external HR professional on a permanent basis, both to improve our own policies and office culture, and to provide a safe, impartial channel that staff can turn to with any issue, including bias or racism. This new HR work specifically includes revising existing staff policy and improving our policy on protection from discrimination and harassment. When completed, this policy will be posted publicly on our website.
  • Clarifying and better communicating opportunities for professional development.
  • Adapting our internships to ensure they are centred on skills and development to make sure interns have a robust portfolio of skills that will assist them in their transition to their future employment. (Since at least 2010, we have paid all employees, including interns, a living wage as defined by the Ontario Living Wage Network, which is monitored and adjusted to reflect the cost of living.)

While our focus will be on diversity and equity in our own industry, we also commit to funding organizations that work for justice and a better society:

  • All sales revenue from the audiobook for Policing Black Lives audiobook ($5,500 to date) has been and will be donated to causes selected by the author, starting with the fund for justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquet.
  • Better informing authors of our standing offer to donate an additional 1% in royalties for their book to the charity of an author’s choice. Last year, that meant $1,600 donated to organizations such as Ecojustice, Frontier College, SickKids Foundation, and the Children’s Wish Foundation.

We work in publishing because we believe wholeheartedly in the power and transformative potential of art. We take the responsibility that comes with that seriously and will continue to listen, educate ourselves, and take action to make a more just ecosystem within our company and in the industry as a whole. We will continue to advocate that public and private funds be used to incentivize publishers to expand the diversity of those working in book publishing and to advance BIPOC publishing professionals in their careers. We will also continue to advocate for, and mentor, BIPOC owners and senior executives of publishing companies so that control and decision-making are placed in the hands of a more diverse group of people.

This action plan is a living document we hope will evolve with time, and we commit to it simply as a starting point. We welcome questions and comments, which can be directed to our co-publisher, David Caron: david@ecwpress.com.