Race Equality Awards 2016 - Champion and Executive Sponsor - HarperCollins

Natalie Jerome, Non-Fiction Publisher


A recent industry survey found that 84% of publishers and 97% of agents think that publishing is only ‘a little diverse’ or ‘not diverse at all’. Since joining HarperCollins UK five years ago, Natalie has championed the importance of a diverse workforce at HarperCollins UK and in publishing generally.


Natalie was responsible for HarperCollins becoming the first UK trade publisher to champion and support Creative Access, a media-wide Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) trainee scheme charity. She persuaded the then-CEO to champion the scheme and engaged support from the executive level of the business for in-house and external showcases for new BAME graduates.

Many applicants were unfamiliar with the corporate environment and operating in such a monoculture, and required informal and formal coaching and mentoring both at HarperCollins and at other publishers to perform to the best of their ability. Natalie worked with HR in the candidate selection process to ensure the initiative delivered high calibre candidates who contributed to the business and actively coached and mentored interns on the scheme at both HarperCollins and other publishers.

Natalie has also led on diversifying what and who HarperCollins publishes, such as a collaboration with RED magazine to find the next big star of African food (with the winner receiving a £10,000 book deal) and acquiring books from diverse talent such as pop band JLS. Her work on diversity within HarperCollins has been presented to the company through internal communications.

Since 2012, HarperCollins has taken on 12 Creative Access interns, and Natalie has helped a number of trainees secure permanent positions within HarperCollins and elsewhere. HarperCollins has also now launched its own traineeship targeted at BAME graduates.

Natalie has led on moving the business case for a more diverse workplace up the agenda by positively using her position to engage with and seek the support of senior members of the organisation on the importance of a diverse talent pool. Her work has demonstrated the importance of mentoring for BAME talent and that trainee initiatives offer a viable and practical solution for candidates seeking an entry route to the publishing industry.