We always say that Spotify reflects culture—but we are also shaped by it. And that means it’s important for us to ensure that both our platform and our company reflect the very best of the culture for the good of our listeners, employees, and planet. We do this through employee resource groups and mental health offerings, sustainability initiatives, and the representation of a diverse set of voices on our platform—as well as much more.
We take stock of all this every year in our annual Equity & Impact Report. There’s a lot to read, so we broke it out into a few key takeaways from some of our leaders who spend their days ensuring our passion translates into purpose.
Read on for a discussion with Social Impact Lead Casey Acierno; Sustainability Manager Ebba Grythberg; and VP, Global Head of Equity and Impact Elizabeth Nieto on impact at Spotify in 2021. You can also read about our equity work throughout the year.
As a global company with hundreds of millions of users, Spotify is positioned to create real change through its platform. How did Spotify use the platform as a tool to create positive change last year?
Casey: We strongly believe that reaching our audience where their needs are is one of the most powerful ways we at Spotify can drive real impact. That was the driver behind our COVID vaccination campaign last year where we identified the opportunity to provide our listeners with accurate information. Over the course of late 2020 and 2021, we launched a global information hub with up-to date news on COVID and vaccination; integrated information into over 50 podcasts worldwide with original content, host reads, and PSAs on vaccination; and ran a campaign reminding music lovers that the best way to bring live music back was to get vaccinated, by leveraging in-app messaging.
Where are you most excited to continue raising awareness of important issues in 2022?
Ebba: We’re excited about finding new, innovative ways of using our platform to raise awareness on the climate crisis and make sure that we amplify the voices of the people that are most impacted by it. We want to bring awareness to what’s happening and the severity of it, but at the same time, provide hope and highlight all the interesting solutions out there. With our platform, we have the opportunity to promote and curate content based in climate science, like the Spotify Original podcast How to Save a Planet and the Climate Action Hub, and we look forward to developing this further in 2022. We are also excited to explore new audio formats, using storytelling to engage our listeners on climate issues.
Casey: In 2022, we’re excited to continue to scale our work globally and ensure we’re making a worldwide impact. Beyond working with the Sustainability team on encouraging our audience to take action on the climate crisis, we’ll also be continuing to shine a spotlight on historically marginalized communities around the world through our celebrations of cultural moments like International Women’s Day and Pride. We’re also looking forward to broadening our civic engagement work to provide our listeners with nonpartisan information and make it easier to vote by engaging in the U.S. midterm elections, as well as other countries around the world with elections this year.
The report also highlights Spotify’s commitment to reaching net-zero emissions within the next decade. What will Spotify do in 2022 to further progress toward this important goal?
Ebba: In 2022 we will continue to develop our pathway to net zero, driving reduction efforts across the company. As the majority of our emissions are coming from our value chain, collaboration with our suppliers and partners is key to achieve change, both when it comes to working with existing suppliers and choosing new suppliers that share our ambitions. In addition to reducing our emissions—and equally important—we will continue to leverage our platform to raise awareness on climate change, showcase different perspectives, and amplify voices of the most affected.
2021 continued to be a difficult year for many people around the world. How has Spotify supported our employees and listeners regarding mental health during this time?
Elizabeth: Since we started our Heart & Soul mental health initiative in 2018, our goal has always been to normalize the conversation and reduce stigma around mental health. Our aim is to create a stigma-free environment where we look after ourselves and each other and where it’s OK to not be OK. When COVID-19 hit, Spotify had a robust mental health support system in place. Our Heart & Soul Ambassadors across the globe could quickly mobilize around efforts to specifically address the anxiety people felt about COVID and having to adjust to work from home from one day to the other.
Our Heart & Soul Ambassadors, who alongside their day jobs have helped us to plan and drive initiatives around mental health, have recently become Mental health First Aiders through a training program that teaches participants how to notice and support an individual who may be struggling with their mental health. They are able to have supportive conversations, listen nonjudgmentally, and guide Spotifiers toward the right support.
In 2021, we offered a Wellness Week in early November to help Spotifiers recharge, focus on themselves, spend time with loved ones, and do something that brings them joy.
Casey: This year, we brought World Mental Health Day to our listeners as well, encouraging them as well as our employees to “take a beat” and listen to themselves. A special edition of the Wellness Hub featured special playlists, video content, and mental health resources.
With our broad sphere of influence around the world, Spotify has a responsibility to continue our mission to be a force for good. Where do you see opportunities to continue to invest in these endeavors in the coming years?
Elizabeth: As a global company, we see ourselves as a citizen of the world with a responsibility to make the planet and the communities that we serve and live in a better place—where creators can share their art and listeners enjoy music, information, and real connections, on and off platform. We are driven by our values. The work the Equity and Impact team does straddles our commitment to our employees, the listeners, and creators around the world. I am so proud of how the three teams came together in 2021, leveraging our different skills and raising the bar in our work.
We have very bold goals for 2022 and beyond, supported by the commitment of our most senior leaders who believe in the positive impact that we can bring to the world. As a practice, Equity and Impact continues to evolve and we are having a much more global approach to our strategy in both DIB and Social Impact. In the case of Sustainability, we are excited to report that Spotify as a whole is committed to climate action. Just last month, we hosted a Hack Week focused on “making the planet cooler” with more than 2,400 participants and 208 hacks (and you can read about four of them here, here, here, and here). We are excited to report the results in the 2022 E&I Report.