Less than a quarter of job ads for UK publishing roles include a salary.
Let's change this.
About the Campaign
In May 2017 Aki Schilz conducted a survey of 48 editorial job roles advertised on the Bookseller’s Jobs in Books platform. Just two of the 48 editorial job ads indicated salary or salary bands. That's 4%. Three of the job ads did not even mention the word 'salary'. In July 2018, she repeated the survey with only junior editorial roles. Of 28 junior roles, only one entry level ad featured a salary. That's 3.5%. In one email listing sent to job-seekers in the Spring of 2020 across all departments and levels, not a single job advert showed salary transparency. We estimate that overall less than a quarter of job ads are transparent (bearing in mind there are multiple platforms for job ads and that some recruitment platforms offer salary bands with more information on enquiry). But in terms of publicly available trade publishing job ads on platforms these job-seekers are most likely to use, it's less than 10%.*
The #BookJobTransparency campaign was born. Our ask is simple, and it is for the publishing industry:
If you are an employer: Join the #BookJobTransparency campaign by including a salary or salary band in all your entry level job ads.
If you are a UK publishing employee: Join the #BookJobTransparency campaign by advocating for salary transparency and keeping the conversation going.
If you are a job-seeker: Join the #BookJobTransparency campaign by asking employers to show transparency. You can send them to this site, and you can use the Contact page to get in touch with us in confidence.
We are also working on a #BookJobTransparency Survey
*Medical, charity, and government publishing tend to score better for transparency on places like indeed.co.uk and Guardian Jobs - though it should be noted that 'media and publishing' as a category includes jobs which affect the numbers, generally boosting them. Want to read our Research? Click here.
Why is transparency important?
Transparency, especially at entry level, is a crucial part of the wedge, the bigger end result being a more diverse and exciting range of applicants able to weigh up their options about work in the book trade sector, and better able to consider where they might best fit and work well. Since starting the campaign, we have heard from applicants who admit they feel nervous, uncertain, and in some cases traumatised by their attempts to break into the publishing industry. From receiving standard email template responses to questions about salaries, to being refused a conversation about salaries at second interview stage, the stories range from frustrating, right the way into bad practice. Some job-seekers have been put off working in our sector for life, before even getting a job offer, so unwelcome have they been made to feel by un-transparent, therefore un-inclusive, recruitment. This is particularly true of those from low-income households, those living outside of London, and/or those from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds.
It's important not to forget that whilst the campaign focuses on entry-level salaries, this is not the answer to diversity in publishing. There are deeply entrenched systems of inequality to do with the perception of who reads and buys books: this is a workplace culture issue beyond entry level jobs, and this is only one angle of attack. There are others, and we fully support them.
We pay in line with industry standards: isn't that enough?
Our research indicates that the range for entry level can swing widely based on company size and resource, and geographic region. Current research suggests entry-level roles start at £16k in some parts of the UK (far below Living Wage), and up to £24k for some of the bigger publishers based in London, with an average starting salary sitting somewhere just over £20k per annum (bookcareers.com). When a job ad at entry level asks the applicant to state expected salary, this puts enormous pressure on someone who is most likely looking for their very first job in the industry. With so little transparency, how should a first-time publishing hopeful be expected to know what ‘industry standards’ are?
Are we really missing out, though?
Research shows that 30% of job-seekers will not apply to a job if there is no salary stated in the advert. We also know that employers might expect up to 68% more applicants if they advertised a salary. Recruiters miss out on talent, and we also put job-seekers in a precarious position, excluding those unable to take a risk on the salary or, if considering moving (often to London), the travel. Want more statistics? Try our Research Page.
This seriously affects not only who applies but how the book industry is perceived. We have heard from talented aspiring publishers who feel discouraged by template responses to polite emails asking about salary that the publisher offers 'industry standard pay' or 'competitive' starting salaries. Having been encouraged to get in touch (which takes confidence), they are rebuffed by impersonal platitudes. Most of those asking privately for rate of pay, having been told to email, aren’t in fact told the rate of pay at all. Some of the job-seekers we have heard from did not have salary disclosed to them at interview stage, either.
It started in 2017...
We already 'do' inclusivity, this is unfair
Joining the campaign does not undermine the other things publishers are doing. And there are lots of other things publishers and book trade employers are doing extremely well, and that are exciting, to help diversify both staff teams and the writers they represent to readers.
#BookJobTransparency is not about naming and shaming or shouting about low levels of pay (that's a conversation we still need to have, that cannot begin without transparency). But it is absolutely crucial that employers are able to be held to account, and reflect on their current practices and their current culture. If the door you are showing to those who might wish to work with you is built a particular way, this indicates that you are looking only for a particular kind of person. Please consider showing a genuinely open door.
Until we can ensure that the diversity of those commissioning, editing, producing, and marketing the books of today, reflects the diversity of those writing the books of tomorrow, we cannot say we are being truly inclusive. Transparency is absolutely critical.
OK, you've convinced me. What can I do?
Good to hear! It's simple, really:
Clearly state salary or salary band for ALL entry level jobs in publishing
Don't share job ads that aren't transparent
Make this part of your inclusive recruitment best practice
Be an in-house ally by bringing salary transparency to the table: you are never too junior to make a change
Don't be afraid to have conversations about fair pay
Have a transparency policy for recruitment and advertising
If you are a recruitment platform, tier your fees according to transparency of job ad
Use the #BookJobTransparency hashtag to connect, campaign, ask questions, but also to champion those getting it right (and if an ad is transparent, or gets changed to be transparent, please share it widely)
Pay Your Interns at the proper Living Wage (this means London Living Wage for London posts)
Support the official #BookJobTransparency Survey