Advance Performance | What Makes Penguin Random House Such A Special Company To Work For?
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What Makes Penguin Random House Such A Special Company To Work For?

What Makes Penguin Random House Such A Special Company To Work For?

Last week, Penguin Random House was been named the top midsize employer in the USA in an annual survey by Forbes and Statista. The company rose an amazing 32 places from the previous year, following a continued transition from 2013 to 2016 to merge the two publishing companies. Forbes reports: “the company is celebrated by its workforce for being an employer that values freedom.”

Madeline McIntosh, the US CEO of Penguin Random House explains: “People are given a great deal of ownership to make independent decisions. If you do the right thing by the books and by readers and by authors, you’re rewarded by being given new challenges.”

Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom of speech, freedom to publish and freedom to access books are all themes which fit around the values of this company in its dedication to books and reading. This mission and culture is started at the top as shown by the New Year 2018 speech from Markus Dohle, the CEO of Penguin Random House:

“Fighting for the freedom to write and the freedom of speech are two of our essential responsibilities. Our commitment to free speech and human rights—and to ensuring an open and supportive work environment for all of us in each of our companies—must be, and will be, an unwavering priority for 2018 and beyond, one that demands participation from all of us.”

Many company websites have very detailed “wordy” mantras and mission statements, but with no evidence of actions by the company. Penguin Random House is different – although its business premise is focused on words and how to deliver and sell them, it is the evidence of its actions from the leaders right through the whole workforce, which convey a unique culture of values.

“Our mission at Penguin Random House is to nourish a universal passion for reading.”

So simple yet so effective. Their core “why” enables every decision and every action to move forward. The strategies carried out by the company for their employees always revert back to this passion for reading and freedom to write, freedom of speech and freedom to read. As we discuss on our Advance courses, the strategies, actions, decisions, and whole culture of a company needs to relate to the core belief or “why”, and be powerful enough for every individual to genuinely “buy into”, and led from the top by example in long term and day to day policies.

Some of the company’s key programmes supporting their passion for reading and freedom of speech and to read include:

  • A free books programme – every employee is entitled to a number of free books at different times of the year.
  • Company Week – an annual series that invites employees and authors to gather for days of panels, presentations and community service.
  • A paid internship programme – to give opportunities to a more diverse range of people, not just those who can afford to take on non-paid internships.
  • Employee networks – which include book clubs, sports teams, community voluntary programmes, and mentoring schemes.
  • Sponsoring literacy, creative writing, and anti-bullying campaigns.
  • Managing an outreach programme with Save The Children in which employees can take books and spend time reading and sharing their love of books with children in different countries such as Rwanda.

At a time of challenging global economies, technological advances which alter our whole lifestyle, and the closure of high street book stores, it is striking to see how successful Penguin Random House has been as an employer during the past few years – and continues to rise. As we discuss at Advance on our leadership courses – authentic leadership and the core “why” for every individual to buy into are essential to lead a strong and successful culture.

At Penguin Random House, their core belief is their passion for reading and freedom. What is yours?