There are many big challenges that face the world and societies today and Springer Nature is committed to creating a sustainable business to help tackle them. This not only means using technology to open up research and accelerate solutions to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but doing so in a manner that is ethical and responsible, and supports people in a fair and impartial way.
‘Supporting Inclusivity’ is the fourth in a series of blog posts to accompany the publication of Springer Natures’ Sustainable Business Report 2021. It highlights a few of Springer Nature’s initiatives over the past year to champion diversity, equity and inclusion within the company.
At Springer Nature we recognise that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are essential to both the creation of a sustainable business and to accelerate solutions to the UN’s SDGs. No one should feel or be excluded because of their race, gender, sexuality, or any other personal characteristic. It’s not only damaging for the individual, but also for the organization and the progress of research more widely. At Springer Nature we are committed to becoming fully inclusive, and to achieve this we are actively listening to our people to find out how we are doing and what needs to change.
In 2021 we held our first global Inclusion and Diversity survey to learn how our employees feel about inclusion within the company. A high participation rate (62%) is helping us to understand the experience of all our employees, and the results of the survey will be used to set future actions and new goals for race, ethnicity and international representation.
The survey has also been an important part of helping us to understand the experience of those employees with disabilities. We are committed to becoming a Disability Confident Employer, and in 2021 we joined The Valuable 500, a global collective of 500 companies working for disability inclusion. We are also working to significantly increase user-experience research with participants with a disability, with a longer-term aim of 20% representation. This commitment requires us to tailor our digital products to meet the needs of all our users. Contributions from users with disabilities will not only give us a richer understanding of our products, but help teams to empathise and understand practical needs, and positively influence design and help to spark innovation.
Springer Nature is also committed to improving DEI with the training that we offer, whether through live workshops or e-learning courses. Our aim is for all our training to be intentionally inclusive with DEI principles included by design, building diverse representation into training exercises, following a sensitivity guide when creating new content, and working with accessibility experts to ensure materials are inclusive and accessible. Before joining a live workshop, participants are asked about their accessibility requirements, and trainers are provided with DEI resources.
We have also been working hard to promote the contributions of those who have been underrepresented in certain areas. For example, the contribution made by Black innovators and leaders to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has not always been as widely recognized as it should have been. In 2021, Springer Nature’s Black Employee Network launched a speaker series that aimed at showcasing excellence for those entering the research publishing and STEM sectors. Speakers from partner organizations are interviewed by network organisers, with the talks including discussions about interviewees career paths, role models, mentorship and diversity.
Springer Nature is also aware of systemic barriers to inclusivity for our authors, and we are working hard to eliminate those barriers where possible. In 2021 we launched our author name change policy, that is designed to enable transgender authors and authors at risk to retrospectively correct the names and biographical details on their published works. The policy will be implemented across all our scholarly journals, magazines, conference proceedings and books, with authors provided with the tools and support to change their details silently and safely.
These initiatives are just part of our continued commitment to supporting DEI and collaborating with our colleagues and communities to support and promote a more equal and inclusive environment. The Inclusion and Diversity survey will be an annual event, enabling us to track Springer Nature’s progress towards becoming fully inclusive in the future.