Whitewash! Leading firm launches £32K-a-year training scheme for ethnic minorities

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Penguin Random House – which publishes classics including Jane Eyre and Great Expectations – is currently advertising its “Next Editors Programme”. Open until November 24, it allows people over 18 and without a publishing background to apply to work for the firm.

In an advert on its website, it says: “We make books for everyone, because a book can change anyone.

“You could be a project manager, a teacher, a lawyer with a side-hustle – wherever you’ve worked, we are looking for people with the talent and drive to find and shape the books of the future.

“This is an 18-month paid learning programme, custom-built to give you the tools and experience to become a commissioning editor – a pivotal role in the publishing industry.”

It goes on to add that only people with “at least three years’ work experience from any industry or role” can apply.

And the “programme is specifically for applicants who are black, Asian or from minority ethnic backgrounds”.

It continues that the programme “offers opportunities in fiction, non-fiction and children’s publishing”.

There are four places available, each with one of our publishing houses, “so there is a home for you whatever your interests,” it adds.

A spokeswoman for Penguin Random House said that it runs “another positive action programme which is open to people from lower socio-economic backgrounds” called The Scheme which is open to white candidates.

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In a blurb on its website, it describes the programme as “a positive action traineeship” which is “designed to address the underrepresentation of colleagues from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds” at commissioning editor level at Penguin Random House.

This is because the roles “seek out and help shape the books that we publish, so it is important that they represent the diversity of UK society”.

However, news of the job and its requirements were slammed – with some questioning why white people from lower socio-econmic backgrounds were not included.

A survey in 2019 found that more 50 percent of universities admit less than five percent of white students from low participation neighbourhoods.

Comedian Leo Kearse told Express.co.uk: “This initiative from Penguin shows that diversity and inclusion actually means excluding people who have the wrong characteristics. In this case, it’s white people.

“Which seems a shame, as historically some white people have been quite accomplished in the field of publishing.

“Are white people overrepresented in publishing in the UK (which was 86 percent white at the last census)?

“If racial equity is so essential, why don’t we extend it to other areas?

“We do have another positive action programme which is open to people from lower socio-economic backgrounds – The Scheme – which is our entry-level traineeship.”

“I demand that all Premiership football teams should be 86 percent white, exactly reflecting the racial makeup of the UK.

“They can achieve this through the same hiring processes. It’s a good idea, apparently.”

A spokeswoman for Penguin Random House said: “We’ve developed this programme because our inclusivity data shows an underrepresentation of colleagues from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds at commissioning editor level.

“We are taking positive action to resolve this through the Next Editors Programme.

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