Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2023) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 17, 2022)
Here are some of the reasons why Penguin Random House Canada Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2023) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2023):
- Penguin Random House Canada's wellness benefit was recently updated to be used for most anything in support of employee well-being -- and has been used for the purchase of home office equipment, home cleaning, food ordering, tutoring and supplemental child care services
- Penguin Random House Canada offers three weeks of starting vacation allowance, moving to four weeks after their first year on the job -- additionally, employees can take advantage of five paid days off during the winter holidays and paid personal days off, which can be scheduled at employees' discretion
- Penguin Random House Canada encourages employees to enjoy and be inspired by the results of their hard work, offering free access to books, free book ordering opportunities, access to author events and pre-publication book club events, as well as access to thousands of free book titles through the in-house e-reader app
Penguin Random House creates pathways into publishing
When Anika Holder took on her role as vice-president of human resources at Penguin Random House Canada Ltd., one of her main goals was to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at the venerable Toronto-based publishing house. “DEI is super important to the organization, and a major priority for me,” she says. “I wanted to be part of a culture where I could bring my whole self to work, including my identity as a Black woman, and this company has allowed me to do that.”
Holder, along with CEO Kristin Cochrane, is executive sponsor of an employee-led group tasked with revamping the organization’s internship program and using it to increase diversity in the emerging talent pool, and ultimately across the workforce.
“Historically, internships have been the main way aspiring publishing professionals get into the industry,” explains Anita Chong, executive editor at the company’s McClelland & Stewart division and a member of the DEI committee. “We redesigned the internships to make them a more valuable educational experience for participants, and create opportunities for them to be real team players. Our program has set a new standard for the industry in Canada.”
The plan has included extending internships from three to six months and shifting the remuneration from an honorarium to an hourly wage. Working with HR, committee members have created a speaker series featuring company leaders, and a buddy system to connect interns with colleagues in other departments and learn about different aspects of publishing such as design, production and sales.
They’ve also broadened the program’s outreach to draw a more diverse group of interns. That includes leveraging social media platforms to advertise job opportunities more broadly and building community partnerships by participating in career panels at events like Brampton’s Festival of Literary Diversity. There are also plans to send staff into colleges and universities to talk about publishing opportunities and demystify the industry.
Penguin Random House Canada is a founding sponsor of the Indigenous Voices Awards for emerging Indigenous writers. “The financial support is important, but we also hold information sessions with the finalists, and we’re publishing an anthology of winners,” says Chong.
“We want to go beyond donations to build deeper relationships,” Holder explains. “We’ve been working with Vibe Arts, an organization that supports arts education and mentorship for Black youth, to help young artists find pathways into publishing. The next step will be to get into high schools, because it’s not just about who’s ready to work, it’s also about those who are thinking about where they’re going.”
“I’m so proud of what we’ve done to recruit talent,” says Chong. “Having staff from a wide range of backgrounds and communities brings new perspectives. That’s the beauty of diversity – the different perspectives have made us better publishers. They’ve allowed us to speak to audiences in new ways, and work with booksellers and writers in new ways.”
The company also created a monthly forum for its BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) employees. “It’s a place where people who grew up thinking that publishing would never be a viable career for them can find a community, learn from other people’s experiences and develop that sense of belonging that is so crucial,” says Chong.
Holder says she’s constantly inspired by the team’s DEI efforts. “Being part of a company where you can align your core values with its core values is really important, especially for those entering the workforce,” she says. “Having people want to join us and stay with us is great. And we’re getting an excellent response from applicants with no previous publishing.”