Journals On Topic

Awards, Recognition, and Challenges in Equitable Representation

From modernizing compensation and hiring strategies to promoting awareness and individuality, the publishing industry has taken a progressive approach to ensuring employment diversification — yet there is still work to be done. Recently, the industry has turned its attention toward the awards and recognition process.

Currently, the majority of publishing industry employees are white and able-bodied — 96% hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, 76% are female, 83% are heterosexual, 81% are white, and 89% report no disabilities. Although the industry is predominantly female, its leadership is still overwhelmingly composed of men.

In order to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment, employers must ensure all employees — especially those demographically underrepresented — feel valued and appreciated by their organization. The three top ways value is demonstrated in action include providing equitable and market-appropriate compensation, voicing commendation and recognition, and ensuring inclusion in industry awards. While headway has been made in addressing compensation and recognition, to date there has been little attention to diversity in the industry award arena.

Interested in learning who the publishing industry has historically recognized and promoted over the last twenty years, the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee at the Society of Scholarly Publishing (SSP) decided to conduct a study. Their goal was to understand who the publishing industry recognizes and promotes, whether trends had changed in the last two decades, and how the industry might make its awards selection process more inclusive in the future.

The committee found significant bias toward awarding North American and European scholars, with few awardees from other geographic locations. Moreover, it found that although more women had been recognized through the awards process over the past 20 years, leadership team demographics have not meaningfully changed.

But the most telling finding was the data they could not gather, namely the race and ethnicity of each winner. Moving forward, this information will be captured, enabling the publishing industry to monitor trends and hold itself accountable for progress.

Based on its findings, the committee made the following recommendations:

  1. Ensure the selection committee is diverse. By diversifying the committee, those granted awards should naturally diversify as well.
  2. Advertise the awards to historically excluded communities and allow people to self-nominate. Often, the most substantial barrier to entry is simply a lack of knowledge. Many people may not even be aware of an award’s existence or the process through which they can be nominated for one. Actively advertising to those communities promotes inclusion and opportunity for recognition.
  3. Use inclusive and bias-free language when describing the nomination process. 
  4. Review the data and award systems periodically to ensure the process follows best practices. By collecting race and ethnicity information from awardees, the industry can track diversity and inclusion progress.

By addressing the lack of diversity in the industry’s awards and recognition processes and focusing on ensuring all voices are heard, there is genuine hope for creating a more welcoming environment to everyone in the scholarly publishing field.

Contact your Sheridan or KGL representative for a consultation or visit to learn how we can help with bias awareness and DEI support.

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