Equinix and CyrusOne reveal their diversity and inclusion formula
To be diverse and to include. A phrase that has made its way into companies’ mission statements in almost every industry globally. One key way of measuring a company’s successful implementation of diversity and inclusion initiatives is to cast one’s eye at the firm’s C-level management team and Board of Directors.
The data centre industry has long been criticised for the lack of women representation across all areas of the sector, and since, individual companies have taken it upon themselves to act. One of those companies is global colocation giant Equinix.
The company’s chief legal and HR officer, Brandi Galvin Morandi tells Abigail Opiah that although data centre companies are making strides to ensure there is balance in what has been a historically male-dominated industry, she says that individual companies need to be actively recruiting women, as well as retaining women through career development, stretch projects and promotional opportunities.
“At Equinix, diversity and inclusion are core to achieving our global strategy because diverse and inclusive workforces create the greatest outcomes as diverse teams are more likely to constantly reexamine facts and remain objective,” says Morandi.
She joined Equinix in January 2003 as general counsel and corporate secretary, later becoming chief legal officer. In 2018, she was asked to take on an interim role as Chief Human Resources Officer and was named to the permanent position in early 2019.
“I was so inspired, as I continue to be today, by the chance to contribute to building the pipeline for the future helping others to grow through stepping into new opportunities and building skills,” she says.
The company’s gender breakdown reveals that in 2018, 22% of Equinix full-time equivalents were women (1,681) and 77% were men (5,805).
“Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DIB) is part of our management training and our senior leaders are getting 360-degree feedback on inclusive behaviours, and beyond the work to address diversity within the composition of our workforce and create inclusivity through our actions. We’re also working to foster a sense of belonging in our culture – the feeling amongst each and every employee that his or her authentic self is welcomed and celebrated and, through that, we are each enabled to truly thrive,” she reveals when the asked about how Equinix is changing the dynamics of its workforce.
“Throughout my career, key themes for me have been a willingness to take risks and remembering that the opportunity to listen and learn comes from each and every interaction – and that’s a big part of what’s led me to where I am today. And I see it as part of my role – and responsibility as a leader – to help create and encourage these moments for others, both men and women.”
The Census figures suggest in 2040 that underrepresented minorities (URM) will make up the majority population in the US. Morandi says that while diverse talent pools are growing, it does not ensure that companies’ employee base will diversify.
While this reality could be daunting for women who want a career in the sector but do not know where to begin, Morandi advises that the main focus for women should be getting out of their comfort zone and trying new things.
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It is heard on a loop that women need more role models, and that one of the main reasons women are not choosing technology and engineering careers is due to the lack of role models.
“Michelle Obama is someone who I greatly admire. A particularly poignant point she has made is that success is not about how much money you make – it is about the difference you make in people’s lives. We all have an obligation to look around and see who we can bring with us,” she expresses.
“This is why I felt uniquely positioned to be a founder of our Equinix Women Leaders Network (EWLN). As an executive in the company, I wanted to get other people to the table. I know we have women with extraordinary talent in the organisation; we just needed to find an outlet to offer even more visibility.”
The formula for diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been leaked but the solution is not as simple as it seems. Kellie Teal-Guess, EVP and chief people officer, CyrusOne mirrors Morandi’s view regarding the need for more female role models in the data centre sector.
“It is important that to have mentors and managers that believe in and nurture young talent. I have been fortunate to have worked with and met experienced leaders that trusted me to do my homework and to remain resolute in challenging times. Most importantly, they thought how to lead and motivate team,” says Teal-Guess.
“Having spent many years in HR, as well as in operations, the key lessons I learned was to understand the business intimately and ensure the workplace is a safe and fair for all staff to thrive and grow. Critically, I have worked with CEOs and leaders that have allowed to me to thrive and contribute meaningfully.”
Teal-Guess says she has worked with many wonderful and highflying female leaders.
“I have been particularly fortunate to have worked with a Roxxy Brown, CEO and co-founder of Tangent International. Like many leaders, she runs her business on her terms and successfully making headway in a very competitive market,” she adds when she was asked whom she admires in the industry.
“What I admire the most about Roxxy is that she committed to developing her staff and working with them to grow professionally. She is also not afraid to make mistakes and is enthusiastic and a passionate leader. Her story is an inspiration to me.”
Teal-Guess goes on to explain that a major misconception is that women cannot be themselves to flourish in a maledominated sector, but has found this to be “completely untrue”.
“The workplace is changing and improving and women no longer feel that they have “put up” with bias or discrimination to secure opportunities. Everyone deserves to work in an environment that is fair and respectful,” she says.
“It is pleasing to see the number of women in core STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) occupations rising. For instance, in the UK, there is there has been a 25% increase in the number of professional women engineers over that last five years to 2018.
“To maintain progress, we must encourage more girls to take STEM subjects and promote the successes women can have in this field. My advice to women interested in a role in the technology sector, is to
seek mentors and great leaders that can support and help shepherd your career. And, don’t forget to work hard for what you want.”
She adds that across the globe, the competition for talent is intensifying for the best minds and that it is important that businesses demonstrate good governance and have a diverse workforce to attract the right people.
The evolving landscape of the data centre market creates an inherent need for organisations to foster data-driven cultures fuelled by collaboration and diversity, presenting an opportunity for women, and other demographics traditionally underrepresented in the technology workforce, to accelerate their careers.
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