Building a Sustainable, Inclusive Future for the Data Center Industry

Our 2021 Sustainability Report shows progress, but there’s still so much more to be done

Jennifer Ruch
Building a Sustainable, Inclusive Future for the Data Center Industry

At Equinix, we spend a lot of time thinking about the future, and what we can do to help build a better future for us all. But exactly what kind of future are we talking about? As the world’s digital infrastructure company™, our support for an innovative, digital-driven future is a given. However, we care equally about ensuring our planet is healthy, everyone has opportunities to thrive, and businesses lead with integrity and purpose. That’s why we call our corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy “Future First”.

As the 2021 Equinix Sustainability Report shows, we did a lot to achieve our Future First goals last year.  We view our ESG progress as a key performance metric of our business. We’re dedicated to measuring our results and sharing them transparently, just as we would for any other indicator of business success. However, we believe the work of building a better future is never finished. Our sustainability report is just as much about outlining the work we still have left to do as it is celebrating the progress we’ve made so far.

Sustainability at Equinix

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Sustainability report 2021

This year’s report highlights the ESG commitments driving our Future First strategy:

With the announcement of the Co-Innovation Facility (CIF) in the Washington, D.C. area, we showed that innovation and development of sustainable technologies is a group effort. At the CIF, we’re working with leading partners to test innovations that are key components of the Data Center of the Future, including generator-less data centers, high-density liquid cooling systems, and software-defined power management.

In addition to emphasizing sustainability in our own operations, we expect similar commitment from our suppliers. This fact has also been recognized by industry observers such as Gartner®:

“Increasingly, investments in sustainability will cascade from internal sustainability initiatives to sourcing and procurement. A good example of this is the recent announcement from data center operator Equinix, to become ‘climate-neutral’ with explicit targets set for carbon emission reductions across its global operations and supply chain by 2030. To achieve these targets Equinix will be mandating specific sustainability standards from its suppliers.”[1]

Our renewable energy coverage for the year was 95%, making 2021 the fourth consecutive year we achieved greater than 90% coverage. Our power usage effectiveness (PUE), a measure of data center efficiency, saw a 5.5% improvement between 2020 and 2021. For our efforts, we received a CDP Supplier Engagement Score of A and a CDP Climate Change Score of A-, demonstrating our leadership and transparency on climate risk.[2]

Based on our belief that people can be a force for good, we’re working to unleash the full potential of the people that make up Equinix. Our diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIB) work is predicated on the idea that building a community of diverse viewpoints—one in which anyone can say “I’m safe, I belong, and I matter”—is essential to the future success of our business.

Earlier this year, we scored 100 out of 100 on the Human Resources Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index, placing us among the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.” This honor is the result of hard work and proactive steps taken by PrideConnect, one of our nine Equinix Employee Connection Networks (EECNs).

One of the steps that helped us achieve this honor was the introduction of the “I Matter” initiative, which allows employees to self-identify for characteristics such as sexual orientation and gender identity. Within a few months of the program launch, 25% of employees had already self-identified.

We’re also proud to announce that the number of employees leveraging wellbeing and mental health offerings increased 20% year-over-year. These offerings are particularly important for traditionally marginalized communities. One initiative led by our BlackConnect EECN was to provide culturally competent mental health services for Black employees who may be feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted due to years of racism and trauma, including the murder of George Floyd and the ongoing social movement that followed it.

Although we’re proud of the success we’ve had around DIB so far, we acknowledge the need to continue increasing the diversity of our workforce. One way we’re pursuing that goal is with the Equinix Pathways to Tech recruiting program. This program is designed to increase employment opportunities for underrepresented populations in the technology industry, including women looking to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to care for family.

We believe strong corporate governance is a significant source of competitive advantage, but it’s much more than that: it’s about putting our corporate culture into action and doing what’s best for our stakeholders—without sacrificing our integrity or ethics in the process.

For the 8th year in a row, 100% of Equinix employees completed Ethics and Compliance trainings. In addition, 30% of our employees were selected to receive targeted GDPR compliance training. This shows that we’re dedicated to working within the guidelines set by local data privacy and sovereignty regulations. We also conducted more than 3,000 customer cyber audits, turning up zero high-risk findings in the process. Finally, we have increased our attention on supplier sustainability and diversity requirements. Our science-based target Scope 3 commitment is driving us to address carbon emissions among our largest suppliers.

We’ve taken steps to increase the effectiveness and diversity of our board, with the three most recent additions to the board being women and/or racially diverse individuals. The board includes a Nominating and Governance Committee with a charter to provide formal oversight of ESG initiatives across the company. Equinix has also prioritized collaboration with our peers in the data center industry, to push the industry as a whole toward a more sustainable future. At least seven Equinix leaders served as board members or chairs for data center industry associations during 2021.

Looking forward, we aim to build on the governance progress we made in 2021 by putting new tools and programs in place to further engage employees on ethics and compliance priorities throughout the year. We will continue to strengthen our collaboration with industry trade associations, and engage with our suppliers to ensure our procurement strategy aligns with our stated priorities around sustainability and diversity.

Awards and recognition

In 2021, our work toward a greener future for our world, a more inclusive culture for our workforce, and a more ethical, transparent way of doing business led us to receive the following awards and recognitions:

While we’re proud to be recognized, we remain steadfast in our belief that the work of building a better future never ends. The world will never stop changing and new challenges will never stop arising, so we’ll never stop working to address those challenges. To get a closer look at the work we did in 2021, and the commitments we’ve made for 2022 and beyond, access the interactive sustainability report today.



[1] Gartner, “Sustainability: A Customer Priority and Provider Imperative”. Authors: Ed Anderson, Aapo Markkanen. September 2021, ID G00744756. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

[2] CDP Companies Scores 2021

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