Diverse Voices

Get to know Alex!

At Springer Nature, Alex is Vice President of Operational Excellence & Tranformation, but diversity and inclusion have been great topics for him, especially when it comes to disability and neurodiversity.

What is your name and what do you do at Springer Nature?

Hi, my name is Alex Higgins and I am the ‘VP of Operational Excellence and Transformation’ at Springer Nature. What that means in practice is that I lead group-wide transformational projects on behalf of the Executive Team as well as supporting our new COO in driving forward his strategy for the future of Operations.

What does DEI mean to you and why is this topic important to you?

DEI is something I have been passionate about, both in work and outside of work for a long time. I strongly believe that DEI in all of its forms helps make not just companies, but also the world, a better place.

One aspect of DEI that I have personally championed for many years is Disability and Neurodiversity inclusion. It’s estimated that around 15% of the world’s population has a disability of some form, which represents a huge number of our customers and employees, or family members of Springer Nature employees.

What does DEI mean in the work context and why is it so important?

With around 15% of our customers having a disability, it makes good business sense to help our customers easily access our services and content (think of the missed revenue opportunity if we didn’t!) and this is in addition to our ethical responsibility and legal requirements to do so.

Designing and building services and products with accessibility in mind is just following good design principles. In addition, many innovations originally intended to improve accessibility for disabled users are also used by those without disabilities, e.g. subtitles, SMS messages, the remote control.

Beyond disability and neurodiversity, DEI more broadly is massively important. Studies have shown that diverse companies are more successful companies, benefiting from diversity of thought and perspective. We work in a global organisation, and can only serve our global customer base with diverse, global teams. I am delighted to see so many initiatives in Springer Nature to continue to improve and champion DEI further within the company, whether through our employee networks or by setting diversity targets.

How do you experience cooperation and interaction with each other?

I am fortunate to have worked with and met colleagues from right across the group primarily through cross-Holtzbrinck conferences. I often help co-host and facilitate at the Technology and AI conferences and it is an amazing opportunity to learn from each other and share best practice. Everyone is open and honest about the challenges and opportunities we face (which are often very similar regardless of which company you work for).

How important is the support from colleagues and superiors?

I think the Springer Nature employee networks have certainly helped create a community feel, a support network and feeling of belonging for many of our staff. That can only be done through the backing of the Executive team and dedication of colleagues. I certainly find attending our Network meetings, fairs and panel discussions highly energising.

What does your company do to promote diversity?

Alongside all of our employee networks, we have recently launched our ‘Opening Doors’ paid Internship for groups traditionally under-represented in the publishing industry. Springer Nature is also a proud signatory and participant in the ‘Valuable 500’ initiative, which is about 500 of the World’s Best companies publicly committing to a number of initiatives to improve Disability Inclusion and Accessibility. For Springer Nature, one of the initiatives has been signing up to the UK government’s ‘Disability Confident’ Employer Scheme, helping potential employees with a disability apply for roles within the company.

What do you wish for the future in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion?

I think diversity in all its forms helps make better companies - we make better decisions and design better products. While supporting all aspects of diversity, I will continue to champion Disability and Neurodiveristy inclusion - I would love Springer Nature to be the Publisher of Choice for authors, researchers and employees with a Disability.

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