The Golden Rule: Women in Publishing

Photo of Saffron Beckwith.

Saffron Beckwith has been selling books for close to three decades.

In her book bag is a wonderful assortment of Canadian and international publishers, fabulous kids books, and a little thing called Harry Potter.

Saffron works with the awesome Ampersand team that has offices across the country; the Ampersand reps have won the CBA’s Libris awards more than any other publisher or sales agency in the history of the awards.

As an instructor at the Ryerson, Centennial, and Banff publishing programs she has connected with (and learned from) hundreds of amazing students.

She considers herself to have the best job in the world.

Saffron will be speaking at Tech Forum 2018 on a panel called Women in Publishing.

I read with horror the PW article on sexual harassment. It makes me sick that we are paying women to be in an unsafe work environment. On what planet does anyone have the right to touch someone inappropriately or pay someone less because of their gender… well obviously this one.

This industry has an overwhelming number of female employees; employers have a moral imperative to create a safe place for women to work. And you know what? It’s really not that hard. It all comes back to the Golden Rule: Do to others what you want them to do to you.

Sitting around the lunch table (as we do daily), it's depressing to hear stories from my fellow reps who in previous jobs have been talked over, dismissed, and ignored because they are women. And this has happened to every single woman around that table. As a manager, that’s just a dumb strategy. These are super smart people; why would you not want to listen to everything they have to say? That’s why you're paying them, right?

As sales reps, our job is not to be in an office. Our reps travel here, there, and everywhere — meeting with buyers, staying in hotels, and escorting authors. I take it very seriously that they have a safe place to work regardless of whether they're in the office or on the road. Everyone knows that I have their back and that I have no problem firing an account or publisher or refusing to work with an author who isn't on the up and up. Fortunately, that has never happened.

All that being said, there are MANY great aspects to our industry. EVERY person who's part of the supply chain, whether you're working in the warehouse, as a designer, an editor, or a bookseller, is changing the world for a (mostly) better place. Each of us plays a role in inspiring Paper Bag Princesses everywhere. 

So as a manager, co-worker, or decent human being, remember the Golden Rule. It’s pretty simple and has awesome results.

If you'd like to hear more from Saffron Beckwith and the Women in Publishing panel, register for Tech Forum, March 23, 2018 in Toronto. You can find more details about the conference here, or sign up for our mailing list to get all of the conference updates.