Inclusivity is the cornerstone of our culture at Equinix, making a difference for our LBGTQ+ community.
When I first joined PrideConnect, our LGBTQ+ Employee Connection Network, I was elated that I could be part of a community that encouraged me to show up as my authentic self and provided me the ability to connect with peers on empowering and real topics. That was a true gift. Now, here we are three years later and I see how far we have advanced our internal movement and I am proud of the work we have done.
So, as we kick off what I love to call Summer of Pride, I reflect on how far we have come but also how much work there is left to do. Summer of Pride offers a time to celebrate and share, but also reminds us that we can’t stop. We have to continue our efforts and remember that we have to show up every day to continue to create an impact in our workplaces and our communities. The work we are doing at Equinix is powerful. Through PrideConnect events, education and community we are finding ways to connect on a global scale.
The PrideConnect Network at Equinix is focused on external, internal and community partnerships worldwide. In APAC—where I’m based—we are proud to be a founding member of Pride in Tech, with over a dozen customers/partners, to raise awareness, share best practices and resources and lobby for LGBTQ+ rights & protection collectively in the region.
With the support of our leadership, we have made significant advancements worldwide by hosting many LGBTQ+ events in 2021, with hundreds of attendees participating. In APAC, we also increased our Pride Ambassador program by 60% to help drive employee engagement in various markets across the region. We could not deliver the events and programs we do without the unwavering commitment of our ambassadors.
Globally, we have also increased our focus on driving impact in our communities through regional and local sponsorships; here in APAC that includes PinkDot Hong Kong, PinkFest Singapore, and the Equal Love Campaign. And we are not done, we are currently focused on establishing stronger relationships with NGOs such as Minus18 in Australia, and RebitLGBT in Japan.
As a result of our community efforts in APAC, I was named the winner of the LGBT+ Inclusion Champion in Asia award this May. These awards demonstrate the focus on inclusion across the region by sharing case studies of how companies are executing their Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) initiatives. It was an honor to be recognized alongside two other great champions in Asia and it is a testament to our efforts to advance LGBT+ awareness and education, in hopes to influence change and shift mindsets. I truly could not have done this without the support and dedication of all our Asia ambassadors and members.
I believe we are all on a self-learning journey. With an optimistic and pragmatic approach, I am confident we will see the change we want. But it is my colleagues and friends who share it best–through their personal stories of what Pride means to them, the value PrideConnect brings to them and how they are helping to further our movement. I recently connected with Alex, Vesna and Billy to learn more about their journeys and how our community supports them in the regions where they work.
Here are their stories:
Alex Deng – AMER
I am proud to be part of PrideConnect at Equinix. It is a journey where I learn, accept, and love who I am. It’s a place where I feel safe to be my authentic self at work and home. PrideConnect creates a platform where our allies and members of the community stand together to lift each other up. It’s a safe place where we can speak up freely and honestly, especially for people who can’t find their voice.
With the support of our leadership, we have made significant advancements worldwide by hosting many LGBTQ+ events in 2021, with hundreds of attendees participating."
I am fortunate that I’ve attended Capital Pride several times. The parade and festival are full of cheering and dancing. It’s a place where you can be loud and proud. There are also other spectacular events organized by local non-profits throughout the year, such as volunteer events, local exhibits, and book clubs. They are great ways to support, listen and learn.
This year, for Pride, I’m looking forward to seeing Above & Beyond in New York City with my boyfriend Nick. Thanks to the support from the We Are Equinix Virginia chapter and our global DIB team, we are partnering with Equality Loudoun to support the Loudoun Pride Festival. I’m going to volunteer alongside Equinix colleagues and friends to make our first Pride festival in Loudoun the biggest, boldest and most colorful pride festival in Northern Virginia!
As I think back on who inspires me, there are plenty of celebrities, authors, scientists and athletes who have inspired me growing up. But it is truly my furry friend Maxie (8-year-old Sheltie) who has inspired me every single day. His unconditional love helps me look at my own behavior and inspires me to do better. Maxie never passes up an opportunity to play and have fun and he truly lives in the moment. His playfulness reminds me to take time to enjoy what’s around us. When I’m sick and down, Maxie always sits close and never leaves my side. His endless loyalty has shown me an important virtue in every relationship.
Vesna Plevnik – EMEA
I grew up in a very conservative culture and environment so my road to coming out—like so many others—has not been easy. I always felt the need to wear a mask to cover up my identity or to feel safe. It took me a long time to gather the courage to start living my truth and to ‘’come out’’. And the reason for me is simple: ‘’because it is OK.’’
As a woman and an immigrant, there are multiple misconceptions about my identity. In a world full of stereotypes, and tendencies for unconscious bias, it can be uncomfortable engaging in conversations where people create their own labels for you. And it is not always easy or comfortable to correct them. People need to be aware of their questions and understand that some questions are perceived negatively even when they are simply curious.
This is why PrideConnect is especially important to me–it provides a community and a safe space where everyone can be themselves, ask questions and learn. Pride is a celebration of one being their true self without any fear of prosecution or exclusion. It offers a voice to those who are afraid to speak out and space for everyone who feels they do not belong. Because here we do belong.
I remember attending my first pride event–the Pride Parade in Amsterdam. I was in my early 20s and I had just moved to the Netherlands. It was amazing and liberating to see the whole country coming together to celebrate every color of the rainbow. Now my Pride Month celebrations are much simpler. I like to take part and watch the parade with my friends and we enjoy various events and speeches. It is so much fun seeing rainbow flags everywhere and walking down decorated streets.
Billy Wu – APAC
I have been in the closet for my entire life in the workplace before joining PrideConnect. I felt that by coming out I might lose the chance for promotion or people might look down on me and my abilities due to my sexuality. Knowing that it was still culturally acceptable to refer to me as a “homo” I was not prepared to share my story.
I think that many people have misconceptions about my identity and tend to draw their own conclusions. Often I am perceived as straight and asked various questions about family planning and kids, especially around the New Year or at family reunions. It makes for difficult conversations and I don’t always know how to respond to make them understand as I fear some people are not always accepting of homosexuality.
This is why PrideConnect is especially important to me–it provides a community and a safe space where everyone can be themselves, ask questions and learn."
But joining PrideConnect has been inspiring for me. The Pride Ally team and our PrideConnect leadership have shown so much sincerity, kindness and acceptance that it makes it easier for me to feel safe in the workplace–it honestly relieves my soul. And, through our mentoring program, I have connected more deeply with Ada and feel encouraged to advocate and promote Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging more broadly in our organization.
Our Pride Events also inspire me to action. During our Pride in Tech event in April, I was touched by the sharing and personal stories. Hearing from others about what they are going through–or have gone through–what I am experiencing encourages me to overcome my own difficulties.
This Pride Month, I have a lot to celebrate! My wedding with my same-sex partner was postponed from March due to the pandemic so we are going to celebrate in June–followed by a special trip to New York City where we’ll join the Pride Parade for the first time!
I want to thank Equinix leadership for their support of PrideConnect. The support from management is crucial and it gives me reassurance that the company embraces diversity and I feel more connected to Equinix and part of the family. I am very grateful for how PrideConnect has made me shine and accept myself.
My colleagues’ stories are as impactful as they are inspiring and I am grateful that I can stand alongside them to share our stories, our hopes and our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. I think that I speak for all Equinix PrideConnect members when I say how grateful I am to work for a company that respects me, and encourages me to show up as my authentic self and where I can be who I am–without judgment or bias.
I invite you to join us–be part of the culture, be part of the movement. Explore opportunities to join the inclusive Equinix team–worldwide.
This article was first published on Equinix Interconnection Blog.