Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellowship report offers Australian publishing pathways to inclusivity


The 2020 Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellow Radhiah Chowdhury offers Australian publishing pathways to inclusivity through her report 'It’s hard to be what you can’t see: Diversity Within Australian Publishing'.

The Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellowship, the most prestigious award for Australian editors, honours Davis’ legacy as a pioneer by supporting a senior editor to visit an international publishing centre and report back on an issue relevant to Australian publishing.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 Fellow Radhiah Chowdhury, a commissioning editor and audiobook producer at Penguin Random House, canvassed the experiences and perspectives of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) editors and authors working in the United Kingdom’s publishing industry, including discussions after this year’s Black Lives Matter protests. Her report analyses those experiences and recommends ways to improve diversity and inclusion in Australian publishing.

Chowdhury says: 

‘I am so pleased to share this report after the long and intense labour that has gone into it. Although the travel portion of the Beatrice Davis Fellowship didn't eventuate, the opportunity to connect with so many of my remarkable peers working in the inclusive publishing space has been life-changing, I could not have asked for a better experience of this important editorial fellowship. 

The report is difficult and challenging reading by design. I invite readers to work at decentring themselves and actively listen to the observations and experiences discussed within it. The information may contradict your own experiences, but they reflect a reality lived by people of colour, and I urge you to strive against any defensive instinct towards what-aboutism or dismissiveness while reading.

I hope that readers will find plenty to engage with in the findings, gain some understanding of the very difficult path walked by people of colour in the publishing industry and appreciate the generosity of those interviewed. Above all, I hope that this report is part of a watershed moment within the Australian publishing sector to sustainably, consultatively and meaningfully change our practices and culture to reflect the complex, colourful stories of our national community.'

Lee Walker, APA President, said:

‘We congratulate Radhiah. Diversity and inclusion are a focus for the APA’s Board, and this timely report reveals deeply felt concerns in the UK industry. I hope it will provoke thought and change - in the best tradition of the Beatrice Davis Fellowship.’

APA Director and Convenor of the Independent Publishers Committee, Ben James, said:

‘The APA is committed to making Australian publishing more diverse and inclusive. Radhiah's report reminds us about ways people get left out. We have to think about more than who writes books; we have to make sure the whole of Australian society participates in every part of our industry.  We invite everyone to read Radhiah’s report and to join the conversation about what we are already doing and how we can improve.’

Download Radhiah Chowdhury’s report here

Further insight to Radhiah's fellowship and findings can be found in the discussion held as part of the BookUp Online conference. 

Thanks to the sponsors of the 2019-2020 Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellowship: Penguin Random House, HarperCollins Publishers Australia, Allen & Unwin, Hachette Australia, Hardie Grant Publishing, The Text Publishing Company and Walker Books Australia.