CEO Action Fellows Driving Real Change at Equinix – and Beyond

Improving the lives of Black Americans through advocacy and advancement of public policies that will root out and end systemic racism

Anita Battle
CEO Action Fellows Driving Real Change at Equinix – and Beyond

Equinix strives to serve and connect all people and communities, embedding diversity, inclusion and belonging in all of our business activities and partnering with organizations to advance digital inclusion in areas of need. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2020, Equinix signed the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge.[i] The pledge outlines a specific set of actions that the signatory CEOs will take to cultivate a trusting environment where all ideas are welcomed and employees feel comfortable and empowered to have discussions about diversity and inclusion. To make this initiative actionable in driving change beyond the four walls of our organization, Equinix joined the CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellowship [ii], which supports more than 250 exceptional individuals as they spend one to two years focusing exclusively on one targeted area to drive societal change.

As the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the program’s goal is to improve the lives of Black Americans through advocacy and advancement of public policies that will root out and end systemic racism. This Fellowship is the first business-led coalition of its kind with a mission to advance racial equity through public policy.

Fellows diligently research and present recommendations for initiatives that will evolve into executable public policy, gathering input from community activists, officials, business leaders, agencies and other influential stakeholders. Everyone works in solidarity to identify, develop and promote scalable and sustainable public policies and corporate engagement strategies that will address systemic racism and social injustice and improve societal well-being.

Building a Diverse, Inclusive Culture

Equinix aspires to be a place where everyone can say “I’m safe, I belong, I matter.” We are on a journey to embed diversity, inclusion and belonging in all our business activities.

Read More
928d4cfc-4e84-4165-b436-865586b0f51e

Three Equinix employees are currently participating as Fellows in the CEO Action Fellowship program: Julia Pang, Assistant Project and Program Manager in Global Solutions Enablement, Jacob Patterson, Reporting and Analytics Senior Analyst in Data and Analytics, and Meridian Witt, Assistant Project and Program Manager in Business Development. They are working to affect public policy in four different areas: 1) closing the digital divide, 2) expanding access to telehealth, 3) promoting equity and excellence in early childhood education and 4) food equity. Equinix created a unique opportunity for the Fellows to stay engaged within our Equinix community by continuing to allow each to maintain their paid Equinix employment status while participating in this meaningful work.

Closing the digital divide and improving internet access for 47+ million Black Americans

Meridian Witt

Assistant Project and Program Manager, Business Development

Meridian Witt became a Fellow in April. As a Fellow, she is using her skills in business development and her understanding of interconnection in efforts to close the digital divide and improve internet access for the 47 million+ Black Americans. “COVID showed us that internet access is essential,” said Meridian. “4.5 million Black students could not access the internet at the beginning of pandemic, and 16.9 million Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) households still have no access.[iii] COVID highlighted that accessibility varies wildly and can be traced to redlined communities and certain zip codes.” Meridian’s efforts contribute to identifying and aligning where Black Americans reside in relation to where Equinix has a strong data center presence. This includes cities such as Atlanta, which contains zip code areas where the population is 90% Black and only 27.8% of residents have internet access[iv] and Denver, where 90 out of 900 students at one school had no internet when COVID forced schools to move to distance learning.[v]

Using a new perspective to become a better ally

Julia Pang and Jacob Patterson began their Fellowships in October 2020. They are both on the Fellowship Technology Infrastructure Committee at Equinix, contributing their project management skills to lead and monitor their Fellows teams.

Julia Pang
Assistant Project and Program Manager, Equinix Global Solutions Enablement

Julia is leveraging her background in food education to help improve affordable and equitable access to food for Black Americans. Due to the pandemic, almost 22% of the Black community may have experienced food insecurity in 2020, including one in four Black children.[vi] As a project manager, Julia is contributing her skills by engaging stakeholders, fostering communication and meeting milestones. She is using her new perspective on the experiences of the Black community to become a better ally: “I hope to become less of a consumer of that information, and more of an ambassador and advocate for change,” she said.

“Every one of our ideas on education could positively affect economic empowerment.”

Jacob Patterson
Senior Business Analyst, Equinix Data and Analytics

Jacob is focused on early childhood education (ECE) and is working to understand which factors inhibit access to childcare, enabling more Black women to return to the workforce. By March 2021, 20,000 ECE centers permanently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[vii] Another part of the puzzle is figuring out how to support Black women who own and operate ECE facilities to pay their workforce more. National median wages for ECE teachers in 2019 ranged from $11.65 to $14.67 per hour.[viii] Jacob leverages his skill sets in analytics and consulting to help identify these issues and align recommendations. After George Floyd’s death, Jacob didn’t know what to do. “This opportunity felt like somewhere I could put the skills I have gained at Equinix to actually make a difference for the Black community,” he said. “Every one of our ideas on education could positively affect economic empowerment and public safety for the future.”

4.5 million Black students could not access the internet at the beginning of pandemic, and 16 million BIPOC households still have no access."

Raising awareness about racial inequality and amplifying the message

The call for racial equity continues to ring loud. This work that our Fellows are leading is raising awareness about racial inequality in an environment that has the potential to exponentially amplify the message both within and outside of Equinix. Participating as a CEO Action Fellow is making a difference both professionally and personally for our Equinix Fellows in how they see systemic racism.

Our President and CEO Charles Meyers acknowledges the work of the Fellows. “These outstanding colleagues have committed to using their skills and passion to work on public policy projects that advance social justice to drive lasting societal change,” he said. “That experience will be invaluable in helping us cultivate a workplace and a society that embraces and vigorously defends equality and diversity.”

While proud of our progress toward today’s challenges, we aim to do more together to create a better, more interconnected future for everyone. Our goal is to lead by example and in solidarity, motivating others to respond urgently to the disparities impacting Black Americans.

To learn more about social initiatives at Equinix, visit our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging page.

 

 

[i]  CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge

[ii]  CEO Action for Racial Equity and Fellowship Program

[iii] Alliance for Excellent Education, Future Ready Schools, Homework Gap, July 2021

[iv] Patch, The Digital Divide: How Wide In Atlanta Area, May 18, 2021

[v] 9News, Digital divide isn’t just a rural issue, November 5, 2020

[vi] Food Insecurity in Black Communities | Feeding America

[vii] Kitchener, C. (2021). 20,000 day cares may have closed in the pandemic. What happens when parents go back to work? The Lilly.

[viii] Tate, E. (2021). The Pandemic Has Compounded the Turnover Problem in Early Childhood Education. EdSurge.

This Fellowship is the first business-led coalition of its kind with a mission to advance racial equity through public policy."
Anita Battle
Anita Battle Facilitation and Training Senior Manager, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging