Author Representatives, Book Sellers and Publishers Publish Plans to Tackle Sexual Harassment

The Association of Authors’ Agents, The Booksellers Association, The Publishers Association and The Society of Authors have joined together to launch an industry wide commitment to Professional Behaviour.

The industry was galvanised to work together to set out the high professional standards that all those involved should expect from one another after last year’s Bookseller survey on sexual harassment and a subsequent blog by Lizzy Kremer from David Higham Associates (now President of the AAA). The paper signals their unwavering determination and commitment to ensuring and maintaining dignity at work for everyone in bookselling and publishing.

In an initial consultation meeting that brought together a representative group of people who work across the broad reach of the industry, it quickly became apparent that as well as sexual harassment being a key and urgent issue to address, there were other universally shared concerns about behaviour and conduct within the workplace.  The resulting paper addresses freedom of speech, diversity and inclusion as a well as sexual and other harassment, discrimination, bullying and intimidation.

1) We in the books industry support creative expression and freedom of speech. However, our creative realm is also a professional one and we expect high standards of behaviour from everyone we encounter in the course of our work, including colleagues and customers.

2) We will protect the passion, imagination and creativity of everyone in the books industry.  We will celebrate and promote diversity and inclusion so that all voices can be heard.

3) We will recognise our influence and make a commitment to work together to prevent abuse of power, creating a work environment free of discrimination, harassment including sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation.

4) We will ensure that everyone in our industry is treated with dignity and respect so that individuals are supported and able to speak out.

All associations will be encouraging their members – and all others in the book industry – to read and respect what this Commitment stands for. The AAA, BA, The PA and The SOA will be promoting it on social media, and to members via direct newsletters, events and through committees and councils.

Lizzy Kremer, President of The Association of Authors’ Agents, said: “In a business which can often seem to have relatively horizontal hierarchies, and in which we enjoy plenty of informal contact, it is easy to overlook the situations in which we have more power than the colleagues with whom we are working. The Commitment urges us each to take responsibility for preventing any abuse of power, whether that be through careful monitoring of our own actions, or watchful protection of those colleagues with less influence than us. As well as reminding us of our individual and corporate responsibility in every workplace, whether that be office, festival, party or rights fair; those who endorse the Commitment will be pledging their support to any colleague who feels that they have been subject to inappropriate behaviour.”

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