Equinix FaithConnect: Where We Celebrate Spiritual Diversity

Fostering an inclusive environment where colleagues can express their own faith, while seeking to understand each other’s beliefs

Marsie Sweetland
Equinix FaithConnect: Where We Celebrate Spiritual Diversity

As the founder of FaithConnect, one of many Equinix Employee Connection Networks, it’s exciting for me to look back at how quickly this network has evolved since its inception in March 2021. From planning and launching internal initiatives to partnering on events with faith-oriented employee resource groups (ERGs) at other global companies, we’ve been actively demonstrating our mission:

“FaithConnect’s mission is to inspire a culture of learning and respect for all faiths, non-faiths and worldviews in the workplace. Through educational events and initiatives, FaithConnect strives to lay a foundation of belonging and holistic wellbeing at Equinix. By celebrating spiritual diversity, employees can bring their whole authentic self to work—faith, non-faith, worldviews and all.”

– FaithConnect Mission Statement

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There are three pillars that make up the Equinix FaithConnect Charter:

  • Invite: Encouraging people of all beliefs–internally and externally–to connect and better understand each other
  • Learn: A continuing desire to know each other and each other’s beliefs
  • Respect: Enabling people to share what their faith means to them and honoring our diverse beliefs

We use this charter as the basis for our global planning to ensure we are creating opportunities to invite colleagues to join the network, learn more about the spiritual diversity that exists among us, and show respect as colleagues share what their faith means to them.

In addition to internal events, FaithConnect members have participated in events with similar faith-based groups at other companies. In 2021, I organized and moderated two panels:

  • Women in Tech Ramadan with female panelists from Google, Salesforce, PayPal and Apple
  • Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur with panelists from Google, American Airlines, Salesforce and Twitter

As a result of our Rosh Hashanah panel, Google shared their holiday calendar with our volunteers who used it to finetune the Equinix calendar they had already created. Our scheduling teams now use that calendar to populate important faith-based holidays and observances around the world to avoid scheduling company meetings and events on these dates.

This year during Ramadan, FaithConnect held a Fast-a-Thon with PayPal. We also hosted an iftar, the meal held at sunset to break the daily Ramadan fast. The event was attended by Equinix and PayPal employees of various faiths including Christians, Scientologists and Sikhs.

In May of this year, I attended the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s Dare to Overcome conference in Washington DC. I organized and moderated a panel “How to establish a successful faith-based ERG” with panelists from Salesforce, Google, Intel and Meta. During this conference, Equinix was honored with the Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index award for ranking 6th on the list of top faith-friendly workplaces in the Fortune 500. The REDI Index is used as a benchmarking measure of a company’s commitment to include religion as part of its overall diversity initiatives.

While talking about faith in the workplace has traditionally been considered off limits, that is slowly changing. Companies recognize that making space for faith allows employees to show up more fully as their whole selves. FaithConnect provides the opportunity for colleagues to discuss their own beliefs openly and respectfully and explore other faiths, which has expanded inclusion and belonging.

Recently, I connected with Brian, Ross and Saif to hear firsthand how participating in the employee-led Equinix FaithConnect Network has helped expand their understanding of other faiths and strengthen their own faith journeys, while providing that all-important sense of “I’m safe, I belong, and I matter.”

Brian Hodges, Sr. Manager for Talent Management & Mobility and Global Communications Co-lead for FaithConnect

One of the many things I love about FaithConnect is that it allows me to feel comfortable bringing my whole self to work—faith and all. We live in a world where we need to encourage people of all beliefs to connect with and better understand each other. I think one of the most important places we can do this is at our workplaces—especially given we spend approximately a third of our life at work. That’s 90,000 hours!

I joined Equinix during the pandemic. This meant working remotely, which made my journey to build relationships and find acceptance at work difficult. That all changed when I joined FaithConnect and started volunteering to help. FaithConnect provided me with the opportunity to learn about other faiths, meet new people, form deeper relationships, grow in my faith journey, and work with colleagues across Equinix in pursuit of a common mission.

Participating in FaithConnect makes me feel like I’m part of a family. I recently navigated through an internal career transition. Throughout the transition, several colleagues in FaithConnect took time to discuss options, provide support and offer encouragement. Once I landed the new job, these same individuals were the first to reach out to celebrate.

Finally, FaithConnect has opened another avenue to develop my professional skillset; I always learn something new when working with other EECN volunteers on membership and communication initiatives. During a recent WeConnect 2022 event hosted by PrideConnect, I represented FaithConnect in a panel discussion titled Raising Allies, along with participants from other Equinix Employee Connect Networks (EECNs) like PrideConnect, BlackConnect and ConnectAbilities. This was an amazing opportunity to listen, learn and grow together in our quest to raise the next generation with a mindset of becoming strong allies for those with different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs.

One of the many things that I love about FaithConnect is that it allows me to feel comfortable bringing my whole self to work—faith and all."

I’m beyond grateful for FaithConnect and all EECNs! EECNs like FaithConnect are a HUGE reason why Equinix is a workplace where I can truly say, “I’m safe, I belong, and I matter.”

Ross Katz, Director of Sales New York Region

Joining the FaithConnect Network was a tough decision for me. I’m not an overly religious person and I was nervous to think about the conversations that could come up. As someone who manages a sales team, I wasn’t sure if it was my place to be talking about my beliefs or asking about others’ beliefs. What I learned quickly is that I had become part of a diverse community that was helping us to learn more about each other’s faith and the importance it holds to each of us.

As an employee of Equinix for 21 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different teams around the world. During that time, I’ve received many out of office messages for different religious observances, yet I never really gave these much thought other than thinking that my colleague had a day off. In the past, I was hesitant to ask about what they did to observe their religious holiday during their time off. But now that I’m part of FaithConnect, I find that many people are energized by explaining the importance the day had to them.

Early in my career, I found myself feeling quite upset that someone had scheduled a meeting on the most important Jewish holiday of the year. Now things have changed. As mentioned earlier, after our Rosh Hashanah round table, Google shared their comprehensive calendar of important religious holidays and observances worldwide. The FaithConnect leadership team forwarded that calendar to our scheduling teams, helping to ensure that important company meetings do not conflict with these dates.

An amazing result of participating with FaithConnect was that, in addition to learning about other faith holidays such as Ramadan, I discovered other regional Jewish customs that included different types of meals and rituals that I could incorporate into my own holiday observances. One ritual I shared was how my mother made the Passover Seder more inclusive by adding an orange to our Seder plate and placing a Miriam’s Cup[1] on the table.

Let me give you a glimpse into a ritual I participated in; here is a photo of me breaking glass as part of the Jewish wedding ceremony while standing under the chuppah.

EECN’s, like FaithConnect, are a HUGE reason why Equinix is a workplace where I can truly say, “I’m safe, I belong, and I matter.”

In the end, it’s not just about what I believe, but it’s about being an ally to others around the world who need help sharing the meaning and importance that different days of religious observances have for them. FaithConnect provides me with that opportunity!

Saif Mohammed, Manager, Global Networks Planning

I appreciate being part of FaithConnect as it provides me with such a great opportunity to learn about and respect different faiths from my colleagues in addition to sharing my own faith’s practices.

Something that has been especially meaningful to me is how easy it has become to communicate with my colleagues about important religious observances; FaithConnect created Zoom backgrounds that are beautiful reminders to those I’m in meetings with throughout our fasting month of Ramadan. This year we observed an EquiFast Fast-a-Thon day companywide with a great response from our colleagues. It was amazing to hear Mike Campbell, our Chief Sales Officer, share his experience of fasting for about 16 hours. FaithConnect also produced and sponsored an awesome Ramadan iftar event at our Sunnyvale Arques office. Here’s a photo from the event.

I am proud of the culture that Equinix has been diligent about supporting, as it truly does make everyone feel welcome and respected.

FaithConnect fosters inclusive environment for spiritual diversity at Equinix

Thanks Brian, Ross and Saif for sharing your experiences on how you have been impacted by talking about your faith and learning about the diverse faiths of your colleagues as part of FaithConnect.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to the Equinix Employee Connect Network FaithConnect and how this network brings employees together to advocate, advise, and promote accountability and change that leads to employees being able to say: “I’m safe, I belong, and I matter.”

I invite you to learn how you can become part of this inclusive culture as you pursue your professional goals. Explore opportunities to join the Equinix team–worldwide.

 

[1] Miriam’s Cup

 

 

In the end, it’s not just about what I believe, but it’s about being an ally to others around the world who need help sharing the meaning and importance that different days of observance have for them."
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