HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

How businesses can bolster DEI with digitisation

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read
How Businesses Can Bolster Dei With Digitisation

There are digital tools available to help businesses drive better diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

DEI is fast becoming one of the most important concerns for businesses. It can boost engagement, retention, productivity, and overall profitability.

Studies show that 81 per cent of employees would leave their job if the business did not commit to DEI.


The Equinix Foundation has integrated DEI throughout its processes as it works to bring digitisation to the world. Equinix Foundation president Bruce Owen and director Sujata Narayan discussed how DEI had laid the foundations of their work.

Ms Narayan commented: “You cannot talk about digital inclusion without thinking about equity. That’s at the heart of it. It shows up very differently in different communities.”

“In the US, for example, it’s very much a racially based issue. And so, those who tend to be excluded or who don’t have access tend to be people of colour. When you look in other communities and you start seeing a slightly different profile, globally, it tends to affect women.”

Understanding how different groups are affected by a lack of digitisation has helped The Equinix Foundation to focus on DEI in its work.

“When I finished graduate school, my first job was working to bridge the digital divide, but it was a very broad stroke approach. It was, ‘There are people who don’t have access, let’s go help them.’

“We didn’t really know who these people were, and we didn’t know what the underlying causes were, and I think what this concept of digital inclusion does, it puts a fine point on the fact that there are actually specific communities that are being left out, and there’s a reason historically why that’s happened,” said Ms Narayan.

“If you want to address the issue, you’ve got to get at the root causes of what those things are and really be focused in on addressing the inclusion for these communities for us to really raise the boat.”

Marginalised communities have become a key focus of the foundation, said Mr Owen.

“Digital exclusion, it disproportionately impacts marginalised communities. And so, it requires you to actively make an effort to make sure that you’re closing that gap too,” he said.

“At this intersection, it is critical, and we know that marginalised communities have suffered … we feel that we have an obligation to work at that intersection ready deliberately. Otherwise, we are going to just perpetuate the problems that we’ve always experienced where the haves, have more and have-nots, have less.”

As Ms Narayan said, the US experiences a large divide racially. The Equinix Foundation has worked to bridge this gap by making racial equity a key focus in that particular part of the world.

Mr Owen continued: “In the US … as a company, we are part of a consortium of companies that work together called CEO Action for Racial Equity, and it’s essentially over 300 companies that commit together to address policy changes so that we could drive to a more equitable place in the US.”

“One of their key themes is around closing the digital divide. And so, this is where we see this intersection between what the foundation does and what corporate America is trying to do. I think it requires all of us collectively to do that very deliberately because it’s actually by design that the divide is there.”

Mr Owen said that DEI and Equinix’s work must work hand-in-hand; otherwise, the plan will fail.

“We’ve got to work on, ‘What are these systems that create a divide?’ and then play our part in advocating for policy and law change and taking action out of somewhere like the Equinix Foundation that goes and creates access and inclusion in those communities,” he said.

“It’s definitely a multifaceted problem, but we think you can’t divorce the work of the foundation from that of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Otherwise, I don’t think you’re going to have the desired outcome.”

Understanding there is a divide and being willing to help is what will shift the tide, said Mr Owen.

“We think that if everyone [said], ‘Hey, I’m willing to wade into the conversation. I’m willing to wade in to take action.’ We have this belief that change will happen because it’s incredibly complicated and it’s hidden. And so, I think that we are just trying to say, ‘We actively want to engage in the solution rather than staring at the problem’,” he said.

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full audio conversation with Sujata Narayan and Bruce Owen on 3 February is below, and the original podcast article can be found here.


Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.