SEIA Working to Grow Diversity and Inclusion in Solar Industry
Monday, Jul 23 2018
Solar energy has made tremendous strides in the past decade as one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. Although solar energy is beneficial to our economy and the environment, the industry still lacks the diversity that can make it an even stronger and more equitable workforce. Women and people of color continue to face difficulties in reaching the industry’s highest positions and wages, and women only make up 27 percent of the solar workforce.
Diversity and inclusion is one of SEIA’s top priorities as a trade association and a leader in the solar industry. SEIA’s goal is to improve these statistics and make solar the most diverse workforce of any industry anywhere, including in our own office.
SEIA has taken on the initiative to create an inclusive work space that is welcome to all. An industry that is representative of the communities it serves can more effectively help its customers and stakeholders. It has been found that companies with both inherent and acquired diversity are 45 percent more likely to report market share growth and 70 percent more likely to capture an entire new market.
We have taken many proactive steps to increase diversity and awareness internally and externally, including bringing on Bill Shackelford, the Director of Diversity & Inclusion Services for The HR Source, to help build and maintain an inclusive organization and industry. Shackelford recently spoke to our staff about the importance of diversity and steps we can take to reach our goals as an organization. He highlighted the positive impacts a diverse environment can have on a business.
Not only does a diverse workforce improve morale, foster new and innovative ideas and create a welcoming environment, but organizations with more gender-diverse staff are 15 percent more likely to outperform other companies in the same industry, while ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to be more successful.
Last year, SEIA released a Diversity Best Practices Guide for the Solar Industry, which is designed to assist solar organizations with practical application and implementation strategies for diversity initiatives. Encouraging our members to adopt diversity practices includes making solar accessible to all, especially low- and moderate-income communities.
Community solar projects have made strides in the past decade but expanding access to solar has still presented a challenge that SEIA and its members are working hard to improve. SEIA collaborates with organizations such as GRID Alternatives, Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Coalition for Community Solar Access and many more to support their community solar initiatives and expand solar access to the greater population.
Our goals may be ambitious, but the passion of our employees and our desire to improve helps drive our unrelenting efforts to make the solar industry an industry for all.