LGBTQ+ at Equinix: Charting Our Journey One Step at a Time

Karl Strohmeyer
Emma Hayden
LGBTQ+ at Equinix: Charting Our Journey One Step at a Time

As we come into June, widely recognized as “Pride Month,” I have been reflecting on the power of the word PRIDE…openness, boldness, vibrance and celebration—sentiments that history has denied LGBTQ+ people for centuries and, in many cases, continues to. Pride Month offers us a pause to consider the journey we have been on, celebrate the progress made, and prepare for the work still needed to be done.

I have also been reflecting on Equinix’s own journey. In 2019, we launched PrideConnect, an Equinix employee connection network (EECN) focused on creating a supportive, positive space for dialogue, learning and allyship for LGBTQ+ employees and allies. In two short years we have grown from a small network of committed members to over 650+ employees dedicated to connection, learning and community.

​When the idea of co-founding and serving as executive sponsor of our LGBTQ+ & allies network was raised to me, I was humbled and surprised. Although I have close family and friends who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and whom I support on a personal level, I wasn’t sure how I could contribute to this network.

It was through several thought-provoking conversations with close friends, family and colleagues that I realized that the contribution I could make was to be an ally–to be willing to learn about different identities, experiences and perspectives and carry that learning into how I lead inside and outside of Equinix. Through that lens, I am honored to serve as the executive sponsor of Equinix’s LGBTQ+ & allies network and continue to be humbled and proud of the work this incredible organization has achieved in our vision to become a leading global employer for the LGBTQ+ community.

From the beginning, we laid out an ambitious roadmap. Notably, we’ve created a culture of allyship, developing Ally Guides to teach what it means to be an ally, to create awareness of the common pitfalls of allyship and to better understand privilege and intersectionality. These guides are available to all Equinix employees.

Join a growing global, collaborative team at Equinix.

Equinix is committed to building an inclusive culture in which our LGBTQ+ employees and all who support equality in sexual orientation and gender identity feel that they are safe, they belong, and they matter.

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We have committed to benchmarking our progress and participated in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, earning a score of 90 in our first year. The HRC Index is the “national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices and benefits pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees.” We plan to participate again this year with our eyes on a score of 100.

As a result of the deep partnership between HR and PrideConnect, Equinix now offers market-leading healthcare coverage for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families and has found opportunities to use more inclusive and less gendered language including options for employees to indicate their pronouns on our company intranet fostering mutual respect and encouraging belonging.

And we committed to hosting very intentional events—both celebratory and illuminating—for our employees. Last year, with only two short weeks to bring it to life, PrideConnect kicked off a special 24-hour event called WeConnect in conjunction with our ECCNs which brought together members of the Equinix community for courageous conversations, wellbeing moments, learning opportunities and celebration, ending with a dance performance by “Miss Congeniality” from Season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Heidi N Closet. In the words of one of the many attendees, “WeConnect was one of the best days of my 6-year Equinix career…all the vulnerability, emotions, sharing.” Planning is underway for this year.

We also hosted an inaugural Transgender Day of Visibility event this spring in partnership with our Equinix Women Leaders Network. In addition to a panel of employees from Equinix and our partner organizations, it was an honor to welcome Dominique Jackson, transgender actress, author, and model as our guest speaker for a Q&A on how she thrived through her experience, how we can show up as allies for trans and nonbinary colleagues and what it means to matter.

And Equinix’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community goes beyond our internal efforts. We have joined the Business Coalition for the Equality Act and are supporting national efforts calling on public leaders to abandon or oppose efforts to enact discriminatory and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

All of these efforts are part of a commitment at Equinix to be in service to each other and to create a culture where every employee can confidently say, “I’m safe, I belong, I matter.”

In that spirit, I am grateful that one of our colleagues, Emma Hayden an IBX Technician based in Manchester and a PrideConnect member, is generously sharing her story with us:

Earlier this year I was asked to be a panelist for Equinix’s first Trans Day of Visibility event. I agreed to do it, surprising myself in the process as I have always shied away from such attention. It was the single most terrifying thing I have ever done at work. So why did I agree to do it? What was so different that I thought it was a good idea and what would make me then share this here? The answer is simple: At Equinix, I feel like I belong.

The reasons I feel this way, the reasons why I, as a trans woman, find the experience of working at Equinix to be good ones are varied and compelling.

First, the topic of healthcare is never far from a trans person’s mind and at Equinix, the healthcare care is very good. It’s better than anywhere else I know of in the UK and that is something I have heard echoed from other trans colleagues I have spoken to around the world.

And yet, there is more to it than healthcare. Before transitioning, my gender dysphoria was overwhelming me; I knew something had to give like I had known so many times in the past but never felt like it could happen. However, at Equinix, unlike other places I’ve worked, I felt that there were people here I could look to for support and an environment where I could bring the real me to work. I was able to drive my transition process and set the timetable, transitioning while working in my role. At the end of it, I was made to feel welcome.

When we got the ability to have pronouns on our online profiles and were encouraged to include them in our email signatures, it may have seemed like a small thing, but it showed continued and evolving support and makes me feel that my identity is respected.

Since my transition, I have had contact with co-workers from all over the world, from many different areas of the business and at many different levels. I have had an affirming and supportive experience; the people I work with have been fabulous. The thing is, whilst my gender identity is recognized as important, on a day-to-day basis, it just hasn’t been an issue. 

Things have been developing in a good way and we have PrideConnect which is a great forum for LGBTQ+ people to share and celebrate our experiences and who we are. It supports us, advocates for us and runs events to bring us together.

I know I was skeptical at first. I’ve heard these promises elsewhere. The thing that really makes this feel different, that makes me believe in it, is that it is being driven from the highest levels at Equinix. It is being pushed by leadership that really believes in making things better and is doing things to make that happen for everybody. Progress is being made.

And that is why I know I can bring myself to work. Regardless of my identity or orientation, I know that I belong at Equinix.

An amazing share, Emma, thank you for your courage, leadership and inspiration for all of us. And thank you to members of our EECNs, especially PrideConnect, who are helping make it possible for every employee to say, “I’m safe, I belong, I matter.”

It might be tempting to rest on these accomplishments, but we know we are not done. We know there is more to do. In order to feel ongoing pride in the environment we are creating, we know that we will need to continually listen and evolve. We are committed to that growth on our journey to becoming a leading employer for the LGBTQ+ community.

Happy Pride.

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Karl Strohmeyer Former Chief Customer and Revenue Officer
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Emma Hayden IBX Technician
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