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SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

on the road
From I Am Josephine by Jan Thornhill,
illustrated by Jacqui Lee, 2016.

Accessibility

At Owlkids Books, we value making our content accessible to everyone. To address accessibility online, we will be implementing — and regularly reviewing — digital accessibility standards for our social media content, email newsletters, videos, and webpages.

We will also be auditing our physical office space on an ongoing basis to ensure that it is both accessible and welcoming. As an example, we are recommending to our landlord that they ensure gender-neutral bathrooms are available for staff and visitors.

Owlkids is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion training and education for all staff, using external professional resources. We acknowledge the importance of ongoing development in meeting our goals for both our content and our workplace, and we are committed to providing our staff with corporate training opportunities, in addition to encouraging them to seek out individual opportunities when possible.

To date, the Owlkids staff has participated in the following training:

Cultural competency training with Kelly Brownbill            

Kelly Brownbill is a member of the Flat Bay community of the Mi’kmaq Nation in Newfoundland who currently lives near Barrie, Ontario. For the past 25 years, Kelly has conducted countless cultural awareness training sessions across a broad range of service sectors, and she led our staff in an introductory workshop entitled “Indigenous Awareness: A Historical Perspective.” The purpose of this training was to provide our team with the tools to begin to establish healthy, viable relationships with Indigenous communities and artists. We hope to work with Kelly on additional training going forward.

Equity literacy training with Turner Consulting Group            

We hired the Turner Consulting Group to lead a series of eight workshops designed to develop our collective understanding of specific equity topics, and to teach us how to apply that learning through a hands-on review of our content. The goal is to both deepen our equity literacy, including our understanding of key equity concepts such as anti-racism and anti-oppression, white supremacy, and micro-aggressions as they apply to our workplace and content; and to develop in-house understanding of how to create and review the content we produce, including our books, magazines, marketing content, and website, through an equity lens.

We understand the importance of committing to ongoing training for our team and to auditing our content on an ongoing basis, and we will update this page as those plans develop.

Owlkids is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to creating a safe, inclusive work environment, and to assembling a team, including authors and illustrators, that reflects the diversity of our readers. We acknowledge that systemic racism, prejudices, and passivity have severely limited the opportunities for members of many minority communities to enter the publishing industry. Owlkids is committed to making our future employment and publishing opportunities more accessible to those underrepresented groups, and to making outreach to candidates and creators from BIPOC communities, the LGBTQIA2S+ communities, persons with disabilities, and other communities that have been underrepresented in the publishing industry a priority. We welcome those who identify with any of these communities to look out for our future postings and apply or, if you are an author or illustrator, to submit your work to us!

Whenever possible, our books are printed on FSC® certified paper and we print conservatively, reprinting as necessary, in order to reduce the likelihood that we will need to destroy excess inventory. We use digital galleys through services such as Edelweiss, NetGalley, and CataList whenever possible and are expanding the availability of our books for purchase in digital form—although as publishers of fully illustrated books for children, we acknowledge that printed books will most likely be part of our company for many years to come.

Owlkids magazines are also printed on FSC® certified paper, with fibers coming from responsible sources. Additionally, the inks used contain vegetable-derived materials from renewable resources. Recycled plastic is used for polybagged issues.

Owlkids has established a number of committees to address specific issues around social responsibility.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee            

The Owlkids Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee is responsible for organizing platforms for open communication among the Owlkids staff about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. The committee meets regularly to address issues, organize action, and ensure we hold ourselves accountable to the standards we have set as a company.

The Communications Committee            

The Communications Committee creates and coordinates communications about our standards, actions, and goals around social responsibility. We strive to maintain transparency, accountability, and an open dialogue within our team and with the public.

Inclusive-Language Style Guide Committee            

The Inclusive-Language Style Guide Committee was formed to create a well-researched style guide to ensure language used in Owlkids’ content is as inclusive and respectful as possible when referencing subjects including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, sexual identity, physical and mental abilities, and minority and/or marginalized groups and communities. Due to the changing nature of language and evolving conversations about inclusivity, this style guide will be a living document and subject to regular updates.

Partnerships Committee            

The Partnership Committee works to develop relationships with organizations that share the Owlkids mission of inspiring and educating children. This includes both vetting potential partners to ensure alignment with Owlkids’ mission and goals, and seeking out organizations dedicated to fostering the emotional, intellectual, and physical growth of children in order to support them through donation or amplification of their mandate.

Social Committee            

The Social Committee plans extracurricular activities for employees inside and outside of their own departments. The committee’s goals are to encourage a more inclusive workplace for employees by providing opportunities to network, socialize, and collaborate and to focus on including a wide range of cultural observances and celebrations throughout the year.

Editorial Coaching Committee            

The Editorial Coaching Committee is working toward setting up a 12-week coaching program for BIPOC writers who have been historically excluded from the children’s publishing industry in North America. More details about this initiative will be available by fall 2021.

We will update this page on a regular basis as we work toward these goals and as we set new goals for the future.