A new report on diversity and inclusion in the American solar workforce

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Diversity Best Practices Guide

The U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study 2019 is an in-depth look at diversity, inclusion, and equity in the solar industry. It includes new data on wages, advancement, and career pathways for women and people of color.
 
This study was released by The Solar Foundation in partnership with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). It looks at diversity and inclusion strategies now in place at solar firms, and it identifies ways the industry can improve.
 
Today, leaders in solar are making diversity and inclusion a priority. This rapidly growing industry now employs 242,000 Americans, and these job opportunities should be accessible to everyone. As a companion to this study, The Solar Foundation and SEIA are releasing a new best practices guide to help companies advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
 

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The Solar Foundation and its partners continue to be engaged on workforce diversity and inclusion, with more activities and events planned for 2019. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and stay up to date on the latest news and events.

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NEW: Oregon and Washington Diversity Report

Following up on the national study, The Solar Foundation has released the Oregon and Washington Solar Workforce Diversity Report with support from the Northwest Energy Coalition and the Energy Trust and Oregon. This report goes in-depth on challenges related to diversity and inclusion and solar workforce development in Oregon and Washington.

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“Diversity and inclusion are essential to making the solar industry as accessible as possible. While the industry is working hard toward expanding into all communities, studies like this highlight where the gaps are so we can do a better job on filling them. Over time, we hope that our industry workforce will be as diverse as our world, and studies like this will help us get there.” — Scott Wiater, President and CEO of Standard Solar

Overall, the study found there are some areas where the solar industry has made significant progress. A growing number of solar firms are now tracking metrics on employee diversity. The majority of employees say their company has a positive working environment based on equity and respect.

However, as with many other industries, solar companies have a lot of work to do. Women and African Americans are both underrepresented in the solar workforce. There is a wide gender gap in pay, advancement, and job satisfaction. Much more can be done to change the hiring and recruitment process and foster a more inclusive workplace culture.

This study also includes a chapter based on detailed interviews with women of color in the solar industry, recognizing they face unique challenges in career growth and advancement. It includes case studies on employees from diverse backgrounds and their experiences navigating the solar workforce.

This study was released along with the new best practices guide at an event on May 6 at the National Press Club. At this event, we joined SEIA to issue a #DiversityChallenge, asking others in the energy sector to address diversity and inclusion at their companies and in their industries. The Solar Foundation is proud to join more than 600 other companies in making the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge and encouraging others to take action.

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Thanks to Our Sponsors

The Solar Foundation extends its gratitude to the sponsors of the U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study in 2019. Additional thanks to Gold Sponsor Melanie Santiago-Mosier of Vote Solar.

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Testimonials

“A more diverse solar industry will be a more successful solar industry. The Solar Foundation’s latest Solar Industry Diversity Study shows us that we have more work to do, and we encourage companies to share lessons, explore resources, and take steps to build a more inclusive solar industry. The solar industry is aiming to completely transform the way our economy is powered and avert a looming climate crisis, and it will take people of all genders, races, and life experiences working together to successfully build that brighter future for our children and grandchildren.” — Melanie Santiago-Mosier, Access & Equity Program Senior Director, Vote Solar

“At McCarthy, we recognize that a diverse and inclusive workforce is vital to remain competitive and attract top talent to this growing industry. That’s why we prioritize diversity in hiring and support our employees through programs such as our Partnership for Women. These new resources will help the solar industry assess where it stands today and take actionable steps toward improvement.” — Scott Canada, Senior Vice President of the Renewable Energy and Storage Group, McCarthy Building Companies

“The boom of solar jobs is a monumental and promising time for our economy and our environment. We have an opportunity to make equity and inclusion the foundation of a clean energy workforce. Now is the chance to implement policies and offer benefits — like paid family leave and equal pay — that make it possible for every worker in this field to succeed.” — A.Tianna Scozzaro, Director of the Sierra Club’s Gender Equity and Environment program

“We stand with SEIA, The Solar Foundation, and partners in continued efforts to enrich our industry through diversification. Reports like this one play a vital role in opening up new opportunities for training, education and development of best practices to promote a stronger, more inclusive solar industry.” — George Hershman, President of Swinerton Renewable Energy

“To achieve SEPA’s vision of a carbon-free energy system by 2050, our industry must tap a diverse set of skills, backgrounds, cultural beliefs, and experiences in much the same way we must utilize a diverse mix of energy technologies and solutions. SEPA is committed to leveraging diversity in our workforce to achieve the best outcomes for the clean energy industry.” — Julia Hamm, SEPA president and CEO

“We are proud to support this important Solar Foundation initiative. In addition to insights about trends in diversity representation in our industry, guidance about best practices for hiring, training, retention and creating an inclusive culture will benefit our company and many others.” — Jodi White, CFO of BayWa r.e. Solar Systems

“You can’t change what you can’t see. Accounting for gender and racial inequities within the solar industry with a study like this is the first step. I encourage all companies to go further and take concrete steps to assess and be transparent about equity, inclusion, and diversity in their workplaces.” — Erica Mackie, GRID Alternatives CEO and co-founder

“The Solar Foundation’s diversity study provides vital insights into our industry. When we have access to high quality information, we can make informed decisions to foster more inclusive workforces. This new wealth of information can help us build stronger companies and a fairer, more effective energy future.” — Sunfolding founder and CTO Leila Madrone

“At Sunrun, we believe that empowering people and valuing their differences is essential for our mission to create a planet run by the sun. That’s why we strive to make solar inclusive in our workforce, workplaces, and the industry as a whole. With the release of the Solar Foundation’s new comprehensive study, in partnership with SEIA, Sunrun is committed more than ever to advance diversity and inclusion. Women make up 50% of our senior executives, 27% of our organizational leadership, and people of color comprise 25% of our workforce. Signing both the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion and the Catalyst CEO Champions for Change pledges today are fantastic opportunities to solidify our commitments.” — Lynn Jurich, Chief Executive Officer, Sunrun