The Solar Foundation’s 2017 U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study is the first comprehensive research on diversity in the solar workforce, including the representation of women, minority groups, and veterans. This study is the result of surveys and interviews conducted with both solar employers and employees.
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Our study found that women and people of color face significant hurdles to achieving equal pay and positions in the solar industry, with women of color struggling the most. This report underscores the importance of diversity for employee well-being, the strength of the workforce, and a company’s bottom line.
This study builds on the findings in the National Solar Jobs Census 2016, which found that 28% of the nation’s 260,000 solar workers are women, an increase of four percentage points from 2015. People of color still comprise relatively small percentage of the solar workforce: 17% are Hispanic or Latino, 7% are African American, and 9% are Asian.
Key findings in this new study include:
- Men are significantly more likely to earn wages that fall in the highest wage bracket of $75 or more per hour. 36% of white male respondents earn salaries in this wage bracket, compared to 28% of men of color, 21% of white women, and only 4% of women of color.
- Only 8% of African Americans indicated that they are “very satisfied” with their wage and position, and 42% indicated they are “not at all satisfied.” For comparison, 52% of white respondents said that they are “very satisfied” and only 6% said they are “not at all satisfied.”
- Only 8% of African American respondents feel they have successfully moved up the career ladder, and 50% think they have not been successful in moving up in their careers and feel stuck in their current positions.
- Just over a quarter of solar employers formally track employee demographics and diversity, and only one in 10 companies (11.5%) has implemented a strategy to increase the representation of veterans.
- Women are less likely to serve as mentors or sponsors for their colleagues. 62% of men responded that they have served as mentors or sponsors, versus 38% of women.
This study includes five action items that solar companies can implement over the next year to improve diversity. They include creating company-wide diversity pledges, establishing a formal diversity tracking and measurement tool, broadening recruitment efforts, implementing a blind job application process, and establishing diversity training programs.
This study was published by The Solar Foundation and is an initiative of the Women’s Empowerment Committee at the Solar Energy Industries Association. Read the full study here.
We’d like to thank the many company sponsors and individual donors who have made this study possible.
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Julie Arnold, Evelyn M Butler, Pamela Cargill, Meghan Craig, Tenley Dalstrom, Jennifer DeCesaro, Sarah Farnham, Rosana Francescato, Kristen M Graf, Jennifer Hall, Jerry Henderson, Kendra Hubbard, Michelle Hughes, Pari Kasotia, Colin Leffler, Adam Lerman, Suzanne Liou, Andrea Luecke, Caitlin McLaughlin, Debbie Menashe, Robert Ragan, Elizabeth Schulte, Ann Siqveland, Laura Stern, Aimee M Tuck, Leah Wilkinson, Glenna Wiseman, Diane Wolfe, Kyle Woodard, Teresa Zhang
“Diversity and inclusion are driving factors of a great place to work. The efforts the Solar Foundation leads such as the U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study allow us to benchmark our efforts to create a diverse workforce and improvement year over year. This type of information wouldn’t be available otherwise and is a valuable resource.”
Robert Ed, Senior Marketing Manager, Solar & Emerging Renewables Operating Group at Mortenson