Driven by Discovery: Our progress as a responsible, purpose-driven business

Springer Nature Group
By: Stefan von Holtzbrinck and Frank Vrancken Peeters, Wed Apr 5 2023
Frank and Stefan

Author: Stefan von Holtzbrinck and Frank Vrancken Peeters

Today we publish Springer Nature’s 2022 Sustainable Business report - the latest annual report on the company’s environmental and social impacts. 

With increasing divisions, geopolitical shifts and polarisation in the world, misinformation is a growing problem and a barrier to informed decision-making and progress.

The entire research network, including academics, scientists, funders, governments and publishers, needs to work together to defend scientific truth and to direct policymakers to the best sources. Science works best when it is a truly global endeavour and, in 2022, Springer Nature continued to promote knowledge without boundaries in a number of ways.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, we showed solidarity with our industry peers by condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and suspending new sales and marketing activities. At the same time, we took care not to target our action at the researcher or the exchange of trusted knowledge between Russian scientists and the rest of the world.

We continued to invest heavily in technology to distinguish fake news from facts, and to make the research journey smoother and faster. We welcomed two new highly experienced executive team members – Marc Spenlé as Chief Operating Officer and Harsh Jegadeesan as our first Chief Solutions Officer – to help us accelerate the delivery of tools and systems to improve knowledge exchange and verification. A new and comprehensive programme of support was rolled out for the large external editor and peer reviewer community on whom we rely and we joined a new, industry-wide approach to guard against malicious players and protect research integrity.

A critical way to improve the reach and impact of research remains the transition to open access (OA). By opening up the worlds of science, research, education and healthcare, we can help others learn faster, collaborate more effectively and turn research into reality.

With new transformative OA agreements in Egypt, Mexico and Japan, and the first Nature OA agreement in the Americas (see page 10 of the report), we saw great progress in 2022.

Our first-ever fully open access report showed that the work of authors publishing OA with Springer Nature is cited more, and downloaded up to five times more, than articles published by any other fully OA publisher.

We remain committed to accelerating solutions to the biggest challenges facing humanity as articulated by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2022, we published more than 150,000 articles or book chapters related to the SDGs and our content hubs reached 178,000 views.

In another year of temperature extremes, we remained committed to meaningful climate action. In last year’s report, we set out short-term carbon reduction targets and shared our commitment to set science-based targets to be net zero carbon through our value chain by 2040. We have made good progress and have undertaken significant work this year on our medium and longer-term targets (see page 29).

Underpinning all of these developments to promote knowledge are our talented colleagues. Our annual employee engagement scores increased in 2022, as did our inclusion survey results. More colleagues than ever signed up to join employee networks, and we continued to expand our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion both inside the company and beyond.

It is the people at Springer Nature which make this such an inspiring workplace. As colleagues returned to our offices, we were reminded that there is just nothing like the energy you can get from being in a room of colleagues working with a common purpose. As we work to provide ever better services to researchers, educators and healthcare practitioners, we hope to build on this positive momentum and create a ripple effect for wider society and the planet.

You can read the report's highlights and download it in full, by visiting our Sustainable Business website.

Frank and Stefan

Author: Stefan von Holtzbrinck and Frank Vrancken Peeters

Stefan von Holtzbrinck, Chairman, Springer Nature

Stefan von Holtzbrinck’s career in publishing began at Kirch Media Group, Bloomsbury and then in the New Media division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. He joined Macmillan Limited as a director in 1997 and then served as Managing Director at Nature Publishing Group. He joined Holtzbrinck Publishing Group as Chief Executive Officer in 2001. Dr von Holtzbrinck was born in 1963 in Ettlingen, Germany. He studied Law and Literature and earned his PhD in Media Law from the University of Munich.

Frank Vrancken Peeters, CEO Springer Nature

Joined Springer Nature in 2017 as Chief Commercial Officer and became CEO in September 2019. He has spent more than 25 years in the media and publishing sectors, with leadership roles across a range of strategic and delivery business functions in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer contexts. Frank has previously had senior positions at: Wolters Kluwer, where he was Regional Managing Director, Legal and Regulatory, Western Europe; at Infinitas Learning, where he was Chief Operating Officer; and Elsevier Science, where he served as MD Government and Academic Markets, MD ScienceDirect and MD Global Sales, in each case building and growing significant-scale, complex international businesses. Frank holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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