Solar is tops for workforce diversity, but still has work to do.
We recently reported that renewables, especially solar and wind, boast greater workforce diversity and inclusion (D&I) than any other area of energy, with more woman and people of color employed. The sector should be commended for its achievements, but now, people are looking to solar to set the example for the rest of the energy industry, and, unfortunately, it’s still lacking the processes and behaviors which lead to consistent representation of the broader population.
That’s a problem because companies with greater D&I are more innovative as well as profitable. Simply put, people with various backgrounds naturally think differently and will approach solutions in a myriad of ways. Diversity of thought brought about by diverse and inclusive team (gender, race, ethnicity, orientation, age, socioeconomic status, etc.), drives innovation which spurs growth across all areas. It’s no surprise, then, that research suggests that women are a vital component in cultivating greener policies too.
The Solar Workforce Diversity Report offers great insights into the sector.
Although the new Oregon and Washington Solar Workforce Diversity Report covers just two states, if the data from it can be extrapolated to the rest of the country and world, there are some solid fundamentals in place, but there’s still quite a bit of work to do before solar can truly be a shining example of D&I. Here are the key takeaways from the report.
1) Solar nails training.
Of those surveyed, 100% offer on-the-job training, a huge win considering it opens doors for those who might not otherwise be able to obtain training necessary to get into the field. On top of this, 72% offer training programs to help employees et licenses, 74% have relationships with training providers, and 63% have training with continuing education providers. These seemingly minor things certainly make the job more rewarding, but also empower minority groups to climb the ranks within the companies they serve.
2) People aren’t sure how to increase workforce diversity.
The survey indicates that companies see value in having workforce diversity and want to increase their D&I efforts, but say they don’t know how or don’t have a budget to do so. That’s unfortunate because there are incredibly inexpensive ways to improve D&I and doing so could lead to greater revenues.
3) Companies aren’t tracking results.
It’s basic business 101: if you don’t define it, measure it, and track it, you can’t hope to improve it. Solar is stalled out in this department because most companies aren’t even tracking their employee demographics. Nearly 70% say they do not track gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and race, and another 10% of companies don’t know if they do.
4) Recruitment is being done in silos.
Word-of-mouth is a common way to recruit across all industries and, in a way, it makes sense. After all, if you have a top-performing employee recommend someone, chances are that person will be great too. But, the thing of it is, if you’re hiring people from your neighborhood, they’re all likely to be from the same socioeconomic status and perhaps even race. If you’re hiring people from your church, they’re all going to be the same religion, and perhaps race again. The same can be said whether you’re drawing from a pool of candidates from the same school, volunteer group, or club. Perhaps, now, it’s easier to see why it’s not a good thing that 59% of solar companies are using word-of-mouth to recruit.
However, it doesn’t end there. Many think they’re pulling from a diverse pool by going to a specific job board. That’s not necessarily true, either. For example, Monster recently decided to launch new tools that would make the site more appealing to younger searchers. It’s great that they’ve done this, but it’s important to remember that they’re doing it because they’ve been missing the demographic. Who else are they missing? The problem is not Monster-specific.
5) Few are trying to increase minority representation.
More than three-quarters aren’t actively trying to increase female/ gender non-binary representation or representation of people of color through D&I programs. Ergo, they’ll fail to attract these groups overall and won’t retain the ones they do attract.
Be Part of the Workforce Diversity Shift
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