Championing diversity, equity and inclusion in our communities

Springer Nature Group
By: Rachel Jacobs, Tue Apr 13 2021

As we have shared on this blog before, at Springer Nature we believe that it is vital for us to address any problem that could prevent those who work with us from contributing at their best, or that can stand in the way of great research or education. Our mission is to open doors to discovery, and to enable researchers, educators, clinicians and other professionals to access, trust and make sense of the latest insights so together we can improve and enrich lives and help to protect our planet for future generations. We believe that diversity, equity and inclusion are essential to achieving this mission and recognise that systemic barriers to equality exist. By acting purposefully we believe we can achieve meaningful change. 

Last year we launched a new internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy, focused on how we will support our colleagues within Springer Nature, so that they can each contribute at their best and thrive. Creating an equitable and inclusive culture, based on merit is - quite simply - the right thing to do, it enhances our business performance and puts us in the best position to support the research and education communities we work with every day. You can see the full strategy here

We know that addressing DEI within Springer Nature is not enough. We are also committed to championing DEI in the communities we serve. As this editorial from Nature shares, there are many examples across research, and research publishing, that demonstrate how greater diversity can lead to more robust results, for example ensuring that medical research is inclusive of people from different ethnic groups to take into account differing susceptibility to disease.

In recent years we have taken steps across various parts of our portfolio, aiming to improve representation and amplify the voices of underrepresented perspectives, and to make our products and services more accessible. Some of these activities have been taken at individual journal level, or at portfolio/imprint level, and others have had a wider reach. 

For example, in 2019, we launched a Code of Conduct and Diversity policy developed for conferences and events, which states that no panels should be made up only of men. Our magazines – at Nature and Scientific American – have developed guidance for inclusive practices in the use of language and images, and we are engaging our wider network of external editorial stakeholders in conversations about diversity and its relevance to processes such as peer review. Our books division is a market leader in gender studies and in 2020 we launched a pilot for a comprehensive training programme for in-house acquisition editors, to accelerate diversification and inclusion from the perspective of race across our books programmes.

Now, in order to drive further meaningful change and progress to the next level, we are launching a new external DEI strategy which complements our internal DEI strategy. Our aim is to leverage our internal and external networks, brands and voice to champion diversity, equity and inclusion in the communities we serve by actively working to eliminate barriers to creating, discovering and using knowledge, and supporting equitable outcomes in learning and advancing scholarship - from young-learners to PhD-level and beyond. 

We have developed a seven point strategy, which begins with communicating our position and ambition more clearly, and then sets out ways in which we will reach out and work the communities we serve and work with - including authors, editorial stakeholders, peer reviewers, suppliers and other business partners. We’ll be informed by data, and have created a specific project strand to ensure we can - responsibly and within legal frameworks - measure and monitor progress over time. We share more about our strategy on the DEI section of our website

There is no question that this will be a process that will take time and significant effort and will require partnership working across different sectors of research, education and policy, including partners in lower and middle income countries. We welcome wider discussion and the involvement of others. 

We are committed to taking meaningful steps, including changes to our policies and processes, and to widen access to research as part of our overall ambitions for an open science future. 

Rachel Jacobs

Author: Rachel Jacobs

Group General Counsel

Rachel Jacobs has been group general counsel of Springer Nature since May 2015, having formerly held the same position at Macmillan Science and Education. She joined Springer Nature from Informa plc, where she led the group legal team in London. She began her legal career at city firm CMS Cameron McKenna and has a first class BSc. Hons. degree in Environmental Science.

Rachel Chairs Springer Nature’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, and is a board member of Urban Partners, a voluntary business partnership of organisation in the Euston, King’s Cross and St Pancras area of London.