Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A University Press Perspective

March 12, 2021 Cathy Felgar, Director of Publishing Operations, Princeton University Press Season 1 Episode 3
Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A University Press Perspective
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Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A University Press Perspective
Mar 12, 2021 Season 1 Episode 3
Cathy Felgar, Director of Publishing Operations, Princeton University Press

Princeton University Press has made a significant commitment towards ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in all areas of its publishing program, especially in the last few years. In this episode, Cathy Felgar discusses several of the initiatives the Press has put into place, programs that will get underway in 2021, and how other publishers can participate.
Guest: Cathy Felgar, Director of Publishing Operations, Princeton University Press

Show Notes Transcript

Princeton University Press has made a significant commitment towards ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in all areas of its publishing program, especially in the last few years. In this episode, Cathy Felgar discusses several of the initiatives the Press has put into place, programs that will get underway in 2021, and how other publishers can participate.
Guest: Cathy Felgar, Director of Publishing Operations, Princeton University Press

Nicole Tomassi, Westchester Publishing:

Welcome to Westchester Words, education, ed tech, and publishing. I'm Nicole Tomassi, and I'll be your host for today's episode. DEI, the abbreviation for diversity, equity and inclusion, has received a great deal of attention during the past year, however, many companies have been working towards addressing these important issues within their organizations for far longer. Today, I'm joined by Cathy Felgar, who is the Director of Publishing Operations for Princeton University Press. She is here to talk with us about the measures that have been put into place during the past several years at the press towards fostering a more equitable and inclusive environment. T hese substantive actions a re represented by the people who are involved with all aspects of the projects the press works on, and are carried through to the content that it publishes. Cathy, welcome to Westchester Words. I understand that the press has made a number of internal changes towards building a more diverse and inclusive structure. What can you tell us about that?

Cathy Felgar, Princeton University Press:

Thanks, Nicole. Well, a few years ago, PUP identified a need to examine our practices in the context of D E I, we launched a holistic strategic initiative in 2018, and our efforts continue to expand. We're striving to examine and improve equity and inclusion in every aspect of our work and interactions. Internally, we have an ENI council of which I am a member and an ENI culture committee, which is staff led and open to all staff. We also have a variety of employee resources groups, which are all staff initiated and staff led. Two examples of our ERG are one for people of color at the press and another for work-life integration. The latter group led us to reformulate and refine our flexible work hours policy not long ago. PUP has also partnered with two groups, Cornell InteractiveTheater Ensemble, and The Equity Paradigm often known as TEP. They've partnered with us in all staff learning around several themes, the power of story and empathy, anti-racism, de-centering white supremacy, the LARA method of communication and LARA stands for listen, affirm, respond and ask questions, and implicit bias in hiring. We've provided funds for staff around anti-racism resources, and many staff have participated in the AUP equity, justice, and inclusion or EJI community reads series. Most recently we commissioned an equity assessment across the Press with the equity paradigm and share the results of that assessment with all staff. Staff responses to the assessment will help shape our priorities for action on ENI going forward. I was just at a meeting about that this morning. I also wanted to mention that our UK office is very involved in DEI, including with paid internships and outreach. Caroline Priday in the UK PUP office recently gave a talk about DEI to Independent Publishers Guild . And in the UK, we are able to provide tuition and fees scholarship to the Oxford Brookes publishing course.

Nicole Tomassi, Westchester Publishing:

That's fantastic. So, as you're aware of, publishing has often been perceived as a business that due to its compensation structures tends to be limited to individuals who may have access to other means of financial resources to augment the starting salaries. Is there anything that Princeton University Press has done in terms of their hiring policies and compensation structures, so that it's more economically equitable?

Cathy Felgar, Princeton University Press:

Yes, we have considered that area and we increased entry-level salaries by 20%. Over the past three years, we assessed all salaries for gender equity and we added a student loan repayment program to benefits. We've converted our paid internships with a housing allowance. We introduced an expanded paid maternity and paternity and family leaves, and we've diversified our benefits in other ways. At the leadership level, we assessed gender demographics and added leadership, specific coaching and mentoring, which I've benefited from. We've also created a manager's council to empower and facilitate cross departmental collaboration.

Nicole Tomassi, Westchester Publishing:

These all sound like very good measures. And now that we understand some of the policies that have been put into practice to help improve equity and inclusion from a staffing point of view, is there anything you can tell us about how the press is addressing equity and inclusion from the acquisition of books and the editorial perspective?

Cathy Felgar, Princeton University Press:

Sure , looking to our author demographics, we have benefited from the advice of university administrative fellows from Princeton University, for the past few years. They've been compiling demographics on press published authors and also authors under contract. That data became a starting point for the editorial group, who's now setting benchmarks for change, including opt-in author and reviewer identity questions, appeals to series editors and authors for diversifying and expanding referral and recruiting networks, and expansion to more diverse institutions. They're also starting to think about setting targets for diversity on authors in each subject area. Then in editorial production we're planning to collect opt-in identity information from our individual freelancers, and we're brainstorming around inclusive language, copy editing guides and how we might collaborate with other presses around this . The creative media lab or design team is also looking at their freelancer diversity.

Nicole Tomassi, Westchester Publishing:

These all sound like very significant measures to help identify and expand who is part of the Press and collaborating with other institutions to share knowledge across all of the presses is equally important. What is there that you might be able to tell us about what the press is working on going forward?

Cathy Felgar, Princeton University Press:

Well, I'm very excited that we recently announced our Diversify Publishing Fellowship Program, which has been funded for five years. We're in the midst of hiring our first two inaugural fellows who will start to work on July 6th. This fellowship is designed for people with no prior publishing experience, were from communities historically underrepresented in U S publishing. College degrees are not required. These are salaried positions with benefits that will immerse the fellows in training and publishing, including career coaching and mentoring. We're going to have one position in production editorial and another one in grassroots marketing for the first two fellows. We've also established global equity grants for authors under contract from underrepresented groups. And we have a new program for book proposal development grants called Supporting Diverse Voices. This program offers historically excluded or underrepresented scholars around the world the chance to work with a PUP acquisitions editor and a partnering book coach to develop proposals for submission. As far as I'm aware, we are a leader in this area. In this inaugural application cycle, we're seeking nonfiction work by women, transgender and gender expansive authors in science and mathematics, including scholars and journalists. We welcome a wide range of subjects and readerships for the project proposals, including books intended for general readership, scholarly monographs, and textbooks. The opportunity is open to previously published authors and first-time authors alike, and applications are being accepted through April 1st.

Nicole Tomassi, Westchester Publishing:

Wow. Those sound like a lot of various initiatives to bring more people to the table to share their perspectives and viewpoints. I think it's fantastic. Cathy, as I was doing my research in preparation for our conversation today, I was reading through the Princeton University Press code of conduct. And I noticed that several portions of the policy apply to authors media and vendors, really anyone who has a working relationship with the Press. Can you tell me why the Press believes it's important to expand the conduct expectations beyond their employees?

Cathy Felgar, Princeton University Press:

Yes, I would say for starters, PUPs values include collaboration, community globalism and inclusivity. And we believe publishing is an ecosystem and our staff is an important part of that ecosystem. So we hold all involved in the process to the same code of conduct, including offers, peer reviewers, media, staff, freelancers, and vendors. We're looking to empower staff and the relational dynamics and to redefine the traditional hierarchical model and scholarly publishing in which publishers are in service to authors and readers and the editors , king within the publishing house. And our new model, all parts of the ecosystem are essential and respect must flow in all directions in order for the publishing organism to thrive. And I would say this holds true beyond PUP. We participate actively in the larger publishing communities via AUP, AAP and BISG , and we regularly consult and advise with our sister university presses in particular.

Nicole Tomassi, Westchester Publishing:

So what I'm hearing there is that communication is clearly an important component towards having a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. Can you tell me some of the ways that the Press encourages an ongoing dialogue with the staff and the larger community it's a part of?

Cathy Felgar, Princeton University Press:

Sure. Internally , at PUP, we have a staff newsletter, a quarterly director's report to the board that is shared with all staff open sessions with the leadership team staff-led opportunities to share, lived experiences and stories, and we have an internal site that collects all of our E&I actions. We encourage managers to review all important developments with their direct reports and monthly departmental meetings. And we also explore what E&I means within each department. We're also actively looking for more ways to share across departments externally. Our code of conduct, as you mentioned, is prominent on our website and we have extensive materials on our new E&I landing page. On our website. We have active social media channels. We participate in the AUP EJI readings and our press director. Christie Henry is on the AUP board and acts as the board liaison to the EJI committee at AUP. I and a team of production editors are actively seeking other presses to collaborate with on the inclusive language copyediting initiative, and around diversifying the freelancer pool and vendors. And of course, Westchester and other vendors are kindly providing opportunities such as this podcast and webinars, all of which help us foster networking and communication around these important issues.

Nicole Tomassi, Westchester Publishing:

Indeed. And one final question for you, Cathy. Can you share some of the ways that the Press incorporates the feedback that it receives into developing additional measures that will further continue the advancement of diversity equity, and inclusion?

Cathy Felgar, Princeton University Press:

Yes, we prioritize active listening to all staff and we seek multiple ways for colleagues to contribute their thoughts, including all press meetings committee work at the departmental level through anonymous surveys and via our anonymous suggestion box. Many of the initiatives I've mentioned today originated as staff suggestions . In response to comments from staff, for example, we're planning a Press-wide meeting this week to explain the details of our us hiring recruiting and interviewing methods and how we have intentionally changed or processes in that area to reduce unconscious bias. All this said, I'll tell you Nicole, we have found that communication is sometimes a challenge. Even with all these structures and intention, we have learned through staff surveys that not all communications are heard or read. So we need to continue to think more about meeting our listeners, where they are and building in more pluralism to our communications. Perhaps we'll be asking more peer to peer sharing, but along these lines, we would love to collaborate more with others outside of PUP. So anyone out there who's listening, please reach out if you'd like to join with us.

Nicole Tomassi, Westchester Publishing:

For listeners who are out there and paying attention, if you're interested in joining with Princeton University Press , to foster some more of these collaborative efforts, I would encourage you to visit their website at press.princeton.edu/about, where you can find additional information about the Press's mission and values, and how to become involved. We will also have some links on our website that you can access, including information about the Supporting Diverse Voices grant , and other of the initiatives that Cathy mentioned earlier. I'd also like to take this opportunity to mention that Cathy is going to be a panelist on the Publishing Now 21 webinar, which will be taking place on Tuesday, April 6th. This is co-hosted by Publishers Weekly, along with Westchester Publishing Services. And it's going to be a f ollow-up of sorts to the Publishing Now webinar, which took place last July. It'll give you an opportunity to hear firsthand from several publishing industry experts about how their operations are doing a year into the pandemic and how the industry, how they believe the industry will continue to evolve and move forward during the rest of this year. Be sure to also visit our website for more information about this and to reserve your spot for what is sure to be a very informative webinar. Cathy, I want to thank you again for joining me today and sharing with all of us how equitable inclusive conduct is part of every aspect of your publishing program. It's been very informative, certainly for me and I'm sure for the listeners out there, and I want to thank the listeners for listening to today's episode of Westchester Words. You can follow us on your favorite podcasting platform , so you can be notified about new episodes when they become available. Please feel free to share your thoughts or comments about today's discussion and tell us what content you'd like Westchester to cover in future episodes by emailing us at: [email protected] that's E D S V C S. Join us next time, when I'll be speaking with Walter Henderson, Senior Supervising Editor, of ELT at Westchester Education Services. Until then stay safe, be well and stay tuned.