Many of today’s headlines are about individuals or groups confronting each other because of their faith and personal beliefs—actions that can lead to exclusion or rejection. Similar attitudes and behavior may manifest themselves in the workplace.
These trends led us to form the FaithConnect employee resource group, one of several Equinix Employee Connect Networks (EECNs), to connect with those from all faiths, non-faiths and worldviews in an environment that fosters a sense of belonging, acceptance and understanding. FaithConnect members are intent on conveying a sense of openness and respect—to lessen any hesitancy or fear that someone may have about participating in the network. Everyone is welcome.
The FaithConnect leadership team frequently organizes joint events with other EECNs, raising allies across diverse groups. Many EECN members, including those in FaithConnect, participate in multiple groups.
In this article, we’ll highlight how FaithConnect fosters a sense of community for those with various beliefs, reaching beyond Equinix to other companies and faith-based events worldwide.
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Celebrating diverse beliefs throughout the year
One way that FaithConnect promotes the understanding and acceptance of other beliefs is by organizing events to celebrate religious holidays and for members to share the holiday’s significance with attendees. These events may be for employees only or intercompany, when employees from multiple companies come together to share these celebration experiences. Here’s a snapshot of events over the past year:
- Ramadan fast-a-thon and the breaking of the fast with a shared meal of fantastic food
- Network allies experience fasting alongside their Muslim colleagues
- Joint event with PayPal employees
- Diwali celebrations held worldwide, with two events per region
- Exchange events at the American Airlines and Equinix offices in Dallas
- Combined Christian and Jewish holiday gathering hosted by FaithConnect, VetConnect and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RF&BF)
- Special guests included PayPal staff, the RF&BF President and a Navy chaplain
- Separate Christmas/Hanukkah prayer program
- Annual virtual 24-hour WeConnect employee event with content centered around having courageous conversations, learning, wellbeing, and celebrating equity, diversity and connection.
- We partnered with GenteConnect to kick off WeConnect with a special guest, a professional musician who shared her battle with depression and how she found wellbeing through her faith.
- We participated in Raising Allies, a multi-EECN network panel discussion on the importance allyship can play for families and how to foster a culture of inclusivity and allyship in the next generation.
- In a session titled Ministry in Motion, two chaplains discussed how an inclusive environment of religious diversity helps sustain a positive and powerful ministry.
- First-ever Bible study hosted by FaithConnect during our annual global sales kickoff conference.
- Second “El Camino Walking Challenge” cohosted with Wellbeing and other EECNs. “Camino de Santiago” is a 100-kilometer (62.14 miles) walking challenge leading to the apostle Saint James the Great shrine in the Santiago de Compostela cathedral in Galicia, Spain.
Making an impact in the workplace with a Serenity Room
When we first launched FaithConnect three years ago, my co-author Yasmin presented her idea for what the first initiative could be. She had observed that there are certain times when colleagues need a quiet place to practice their beliefs during working hours. For others, stepping away from work stress for a few minutes of peace and calm would be a welcome respite. She asked, “What if we could provide a comfortable space for colleagues in our Equinix IBX® data centers to step away from their workspaces to experience serenity through engaging in spiritual practices, meditation or simply sitting quietly? These spaces are already available in Equinix corporate offices, so why not expand this concept to the data centers?”
Yasmin believed offering such a space would be instrumental in allowing everyone to bring their full selves to the workplace. While the vision and passion for the idea took seed in the FaithConnect network, it was the partnership with the French IBX operations and Well-being teams that transformed the idea into reality. The first-ever Equinix IBX Serenity Room officially opened in February 2023 at the Equinix Paris IBX data center campus in Saint-Denis, France.
The local IBX team did the heavy lifting to find and assign a permanent space they could remodel into a room layout that was fit for purpose. Once the room layout was determined, they organized and furnished it for mixed-use with floor rugs, plants and a few pieces of simple furniture. Now, the Saint-Denis campus has a dedicated place for meditation, prayer and relaxation.
It is designed to help us re-balance and re-connect with ourselves amidst the fast pace of life and work. It also aims to help lower stress levels and improve the wellbeing of our teams who work around the clock at our IBXs.”- Régis Castagné, Managing Director, France, Equinix
The Wellbeing team is now working with the global Design & Construction team to scale the Serenity Room concept. They are designing a flexible blueprint for Equinix IBX data centers worldwide that prioritizes identifying available spaces that only requires a touch of interior décor modification as opposed to a full redesign. The blueprint will include guidance on using the Serenity Room. HR and other staff will ensure compliance at the local level.
We’re thrilled that this FaithConnect initiative was so well-received by the staff. Yasmin refers to the introduction of Serenity Rooms as the “easy button” for supporting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Speaking at faith-related conferences
News and recognition of FaithConnect’s success has resulted in invitations for the leadership team and other staff to speak and participate in various events. In 2022, FaithConnect founder Marsie Sweetland and Ismael Rivera attended the 3rd National Faith@Work ERG Conference (RF&BF) in Washington, DC. Marsie accepted the Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index award on behalf of Equinix for ranking sixth on the list of top faith-friendly workplaces in the Fortune 500. As an AI & Faith group advisor, she also moderated a discussion on “The Role of Faith and Beliefs in the Development of Ethical AI” at the same event.
Earlier this year, Marsie and Ismael participated in the initial Faith & Belief at Work Case Competition at the Marriott School of Business. Marsie delivered the opening speech, and Ismael was a case competition judge.
Later this year, Jeremy Deutsch, President – Asia-Pacific at Equinix, is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the RFBF India conference. The Equinix FaithConnect leadership team will also attend, to understand how we can best serve and represent our employees and business in the Asia-Pacific region.
Making a difference with charitable donations and volunteer work
Equinix FaithConnect members routinely demonstrate their commitment to making a difference. In 2022, they supported 65 faith-based and religious organizations with $63,557 in employee donations and company-matched funds, an increase of $21,500 over the previous year. During Equinix Impact Month in October, they helped drive awareness around eradicating human trafficking. They raised over $30K, participated in a freedom walk sponsored by the nonprofit A21 and partnered with local organizations in Dallas, Denver, Tampa and Mexico.
Finally, we’re proud to note that Marsie Sweetland received the Chairman’s Award from Charles Meyers, Equinix CEO, in part, for her leadership as the FaithConnect founder.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into how Equinix FaithConnect provides a sense of belonging, acceptance and understanding and the opportunities we’ve had to share the value of faith-based ERGs through our participation in external events.
We invite you to learn how to become a part of this inclusive culture as you pursue your professional goals. Explore opportunities to join the Equinix team–worldwide.
 Religious Freedom & Business Foundation
 Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index 2022, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation