We recognized that the industry has a diversity problem, but were unsure what our starting point was, or how to best serve underrepresented communities.
SEIA launched a Women’s Empowerment Committee two years ago, with several goals in mind. One of the group’s goals was to benchmark gender diversity and leadership in the solar industry in comparison to other clean energy technologies and similar industries and identify where the solar industry can improve and develop specific targets and timelines for change. Through a partnership with the Solar Foundation and some of our member companies, the Solar Diversity Study was created, and the first report was made public in September 2017. The report contains important information about the industry’s baseline, as well as suggestions on actions individual companies can take to improve diversity at their own companies.
We now have a baseline to build programs that will result in a more diverse industry. For example, the percentage of women in the solar industry has increased from 22% to 27% since 2014, but women make up only 17% of senior executive positions. Our community engagement working group, D&I committee, and other teams are working to improve these metrics, and have already implemented partnerships and events programming specifically creating opportunities for women to learn how to advance their careers from their peers and industry leaders.
Expanding diversity and inclusion within our organization and across the entire solar workforce is a top priority of mine as SEIA’s president and CEO. Although we’ve seen an increase in women and minorities employed in the solar workforce, there is still a long way to go ensure fairness and equality in our industry and across the U.S. Women and people of color continue to face significant difficulties in reaching the industry’s highest positions and wages. SEIA works to encourage respect among our employees and members to create a more productive industry that provides equal opportunities for all.
Diversity at SEIA is an active initiative that permeates all major aspects of our organization. Our Diversity Best Practices Guide aims to assist solar companies with the implementation of diversity initiatives to cultivate a resilient and inclusive environment, while encouraging the same practices within our own organization. I am optimistic about the future of diversity in my organization, the energy industry and the United States, and am proud to be a part of a workforce that is actively advancing the conversation around diversity and inclusion.