An Evening with the FLIP: driving positive change within the Publishing Workforce!

An Evening with the FLIP: driving positive change within the Publishing Workforce!

The FLIP (Female Leadership in Publishing), are a non-profit organisation, who aim to inspire people in publishing by sharing honest insight, research and knowledge in order to help build transparency, representation and equality across the Publishing Industry. This year, The FLIP launched a workforce survey and encouraged all who worked in publishing to participate and have their thoughts and feelings shared about their workplace experiences. With a great response – 749 respondents to be exact! The FLIP hosted their first in-person networking event to share and discuss their results, as well as to share insight from 2 excellent panels on a few of the key topics that came up from the survey, in particular that of caring responsibilities, confidence and burnout – something that 42% of respondents said they had experienced in their career. Inspired were delighted to attend and we’re happy to share some of the insight we gained from the evening here!

The Workforce survey was open to all those who worked in publishing at any level and from any background and identity. Being described as a ‘temperature check’ for the Publishing Industry, the aim of the survey and its results is to both celebrate and acknowledge all the great things happening in publishing as well as to shine a light on areas within the workforce that need improvement and provide ideas for solutions – ultimately driving positive change for the industry! The Survey looks at some key topics such as Enjoyment of Work, Workload, Salary, Mental and Physical Health as well as some key takeaways from respondents. The full report and findings are available here.

Something that was discussed at the event of which the survey found to be a topic that needed to be explored further was that of caring responsibilities and juggling those with work. Taking to the stage to discuss ‘The Second Shift’ Rebecca Sinclair, Chief Brand Officer at PRH; Samantha Eardley, Sales and Marketing Director at Collins and Dan Bunyard, Publishing Director at Michael Joseph shared their own thoughts on this, opening up about some of their own personal experiences of having care responsibilities outside of work. Although the panel admitted to not having the solution, they were all in agreement that juggling work life balance is hard, particularly with caring responsibilities, but all were in agreement that the thing that helped them the most was being open and honest about this with their managers and that flexibility at work has been a game changer over the last few years. 

Panelists on stage

They go on to explain how creating a safe space for people to be open about their circumstances is so important in organisations today to ensure people can get access to the right support and to prevent problems such as burn out and other mental health problems. It was highlighted in the survey how although 79% of respondents felt comfortable talking about their physical health with their line manager, only 56% felt comfortable discussing their mental health. By creating safer spaces and leaning into honest and open conversation and most importantly showing vulnerability themselves, leaders of today can make an immediate huge difference to their teams and the environment they work in.

In talking about the support that has helped them, it was also acknowledged that there are of course instances where people have to take leave from work for a whole host of reasons and it’s important to manage this well also, not least because when people have time away their confidence can take a hit and this is where imposter syndrome can creep in (something 97% of respondents said to have experienced in their career). Dan Bunyard emphasised that when people are on leave it is important that the management team keep communication up (dependant of course on the circumstances it might be discussed beforehand how often is appropriate to be in touch) to ensure someone still feels involved and needed but without putting pressure on them. Colleagues still want to feel part of the team and aware of the changes going on so that when returning it isn’t a huge transition. When you have team members return from leave, Dan also suggests setting more realistic shorter-term goals that result in quick wins to help people regain their confidence and feel they are adding value – it can be difficult and nerve wracking returning and adjusting to work if you have been out for some time so anything that will help to ease that transition will be more beneficial in the long term for everyone. 

It’s also important to remember that just because someone has returned to work, doesn’t mean that their responsibilities outside of work no longer exist, and for all those who do have these, Dan reminds us that if you feel your extra responsibilities make you feel that you are not as good at your work as you once were, then start looking at it as you are actually an expanded version of yourself and you are doing more and excelling! A great and true perspective!

As we all know, we have seen huge changes in the way that we work since the pandemic, and the panel highlight how since this time, although flexibility has improved, work and home life have certainly collided which means sometimes the boundaries have been blurred. When talking about boundaries the panel discuss the importance of being clear on them not just with others, but also with yourself in order to achieve a better work life balance. Afterall, if you are not clear on them then no one else will be. 

The topic of mental and physical health within the workforce and how leaders can provide support was touched upon throughout the evening and on the next panel made up of Daphne Tong, Managing Director at Daphne Press, Katie Packer, Editorial Director at Trapeze, Amanda Ahadizadeh, Consumer Insights Analyst at Hachette and Akua Boatong, Senior Marketing Manager at Bloomsbury. The panel comment on how the FLIP survey has found only 46% respondents who considered themselves to have a long-term disability or health condition felt supported by the workforce expressing how there is still a need for companies and management to create a more inclusive workplace that is safe and accessible for all. Amanda goes on to mention how at Hachette they have implemented well-being counsellors and free counselling for their employees which has seen a positive response. 

Another thing to always be thinking about is management training - companies should be providing training to allow leaders to also flourish when it comes to supporting their teams. Something else to bear in mind as leaders managing teams in the new hybrid world is the importance of still checking in with team members regularly. It is much easier to detect if someone is not themselves when we are in a face-to-face environment – it might be there body language, tone, facial expression – all of which we have no awareness of if they are sitting behind a screen out of sight, so be conscious of the contact you have with your team both in the physical and virtual workspace. 

Thank you to the FLIP for hosting an insightful and inspiring event! If you would like to hear further about what the Publishing Industry is doing to help drive positive change then do be sure to join our LinkedIn Live this Thursday 25th April at 1pm where Suzy Astbury, CEO of Inspired will be talking to industry experts: Sanjee de Silva, Publisher at Sweet Cherry Publishing, and Bunmi Western, Director at Ingram Publisher Services UK on building more inclusive cultures within publishing – you can sign up for this event here.

LinkedIn Live Poster with panelists




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