Sharing perspectives on publishing for equity

Springer Nature Group
By: Clelia Petracca and Jessica Gedamu, Wed May 8 2024
Jess and Ceilia

Author: Clelia Petracca and Jessica Gedamu

As part of last month’s London Book Fair, and for the second year, Springer Nature co-sponsored the Fair’s sustainability hub and hosted a cross-industry conversation with panellists from across the publishing industry. We believe sustainability challenges require many stakeholders to work collaboratively and learn together. 

This year’s panel covered equity in publishing with Sarah Braybrooke (Ithaka Press, Bonnier Books UK), Sarah Phibbs (Research4Life and STM), and Tamsine O'Riordan (Springer Nature). Together they shared their thoughts on the challenges and goals that publishers share when advancing inclusive DEI practices internally and externally. 

In this blog, session moderator, Clelia Petracca, commissioning editor in Disability Studies at Palgrave Macmillan and Jessica Gedamu, VP of DEI at Springer Nature, reflect back on the key takeaways from the discussion in the context of the “three C’s” of diversity, equity and inclusion: colleagues, content and communities. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in publishing represents a multilayered discussion - one that spans across publishing services and products, the development of research and ethical guidelines, and the ways in which we live those values within our publishing practices and across our workforces. Whilst the promotion of DEI is integral to publishing, turning that commitment into a reality requires hard work, not just individually, but collectively, if we are to achieve a truly inclusive, equal and diverse publishing landscape.

Here at Springer Nature, this is something that we are committed to, and often discuss through the framework of the “Three C’s - Colleagues, Content and Communities”.


The panel discussed the role of internal company DEI policies and the strategic vision needed to shape a diverse and inclusive workplace. With discussion spanning from Bonnier Books UK’s pregnancy loss policy to the value of volunteer run initiatives like UN-Publisher partnership Research4Life, panellists agreed that a genuine sense of purpose and collaboration among colleagues complement and sometimes inform top-down internal and external company strategies. We see this sense of purpose and collaboration first hand at Springer Nature across our ten employee networks (comprising more than 1800 of our 9500 colleagues) who create vibrant communities and safe spaces for our employees who share common experiences, interests, and backgrounds. Our inclusion and diversity surveys also tell us that colleagues involved in the networks have a higher experience of inclusion. 

As discussed at the Sustainability Hub, we all want to get the balance right between formalised structures and the organic communities we have within our organisations. DEI is a strategic priority for many of us and we’ve been on our DEI journey since we launched our first roadmap in 2018. We’re building an inclusive culture through things like our DEI mentoring programme, and working on representation with the implementation of inclusive hiring practices and our Opening Doors internship programme, which in 2024 will run for a second year. Investing in the talent pipeline is something the industry as a whole is taking seriously. 


As a global publisher, we have an important responsibility in the knowledge we curate and publish. In this sense, representation of diverse groups within the workplace is crucial to reflect, expand on and deliver for the authors, editors, and reviewers we interact with. Tamsine spoke powerfully during the session about how we can educate, inform, and support DEI progress by intentionally adjusting content portfolios. Increasing the representation and inclusion of diverse voices enables us to create better content, better research, and better solutions. Take for example Nature’s Racism special in 2022, the first issue in the journal’s 153 year history to be overseen by four external editors which aimed to help end discriminatory practices and systemic racism in science. Our platforms can share new ideas, and solutions for equity and inclusion.  

Panellists drew attention to the importance of reaching and engaging wider audiences. Sarah Phibbs highlighted the role that Research4Life plays in access to research as an accelerator for progress  around the world, with publishers collectively donating 200,000 resources to 125 lower and middle income countries.  Additionally Research4Life’s community Country Connector program is supporting librarians and local publishers in lower and middle-income countries to help researchers participate in the research publishing ecosystem. Springer Nature is a founder partner of Research4Life, and is further developing an approach to improve access to content and to publishing for those in emerging economies, through our policies, products (such as auto-translations services), and commitment to open science.

Truly inclusive DEI is not only dependent on our colleagues and content, but on our wider engagement with the community.


As the discussion highlighted, it is vital that we use our networks, brands and voice to champion DEI in the research, education and professional communities we work with. We want to make sure global communities can be supported in taking inclusive action. Examples of this are a course on unconscious bias we created for editorial stakeholders, Nature Masterclasses for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and resources for editors such as guidance for diverse recruitment of peer reviewers. It’s vital that our pools of peer reviewers, and members of Editorial Boards who make decisions on content to be published, are increasingly representative of wider society. 

However, as Sarah Braybrooke commented, “community” is somewhat easier to define for academic publishers. For Bonnier Books UK, their communities are anyone who can read English or want to discover books. While being inclusive for their communities has a different focus, we both want to find ways to speak to and deliver for the communities we serve through our publishing. 

The discussion during the session, whilst it only touched the surface of many key topics, served as a reminder to us all about what is going on globally across our businesses and with our partners, to make publishing a more diverse and inclusive industry. There is still a long way to go, but it’s clear we have more in common across the sector than we might think.

Find out more about diversity, equity and inclusion at Springer Nature in our latest Sustainable Business Report, Open for Progress or visit our Group DEI website. 

Find out more about Bonnier Books UK on their website, and Research4Life on their site. 

Jess and Ceilia

Author: Clelia Petracca and Jessica Gedamu

Clelia Petracca, Commissioning Editor, Social Sciences, Springer Nature

Clelia Petracca is commissioning editor in Disability Studies at Palgrave Macmillan (Springer Nature Group). With almost ten years of experience in the publishing industry, first as a freelance editor at Mondadori Education and then as an associate editor at Wiley, she supports authors to bring their book ideas to life and bridge the gap between research and practice. At Springer Nature she also co-chairs the SDG 5 Working Group: Gender Equality, a company wide initiative that brings together colleagues across different departments to support Springer Nature’s goal of becoming the SDG publisher of choice with internal and external initiatives and partnerships.

Jessica Gedamu, VP, Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Springer Nature

Jessica Gedamu works as VP, Global Diversity and Inclusion for Springer Nature. She develops and implements the global D&I strategy of the leading global science, education and trade publisher.

Jessica Gedamu is a trained diversity trainer (A World of Diversity®). She has many years of experience working with companies in different industries on D&I topics such as unconscious bias, work flexibilization, mentoring, staff recruitment and development, and inclusive leadership.

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