Letter: It’s Time for the Solar Industry to Act on Diversity and Inclusion

There has been an outpouring of support from across the
renewable energy industry in response to the unnecessary death of
George Floyd and the many others who have preceded him and the
Black Lives Matter Movement. It is a moment for introspection for
us all.

We are proud of those within our industry who have voiced
support for moving toward a more inclusive and diverse community.
Now we must follow these words with clear action and concrete steps
to build this community. It will not be easy, nor will it be quick,
but we must all do better.

As a first step, leaders from Capital Dynamics, Cypress Creek
Renewables, EDF Renewables, Generate Capital, Mosaic, Nautilus
Solar Energy, New Columbia Solar, Nextracker, Volt Energy, Sol
Systems, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the
Solar Foundation�have come together to share experiences, evaluate
best practices, and make change. Our goal is to identify concrete
ways to work together to create the change we all recognize is
needed, commit to this change, and drive a larger industry-wide
partnership between CEOs and organizations — the Renewables Forward
Initiative
.

The initial framework is simple and includes commitments to act
on four core principles:

  1. Assess diversity and inclusion in our industry
    to raise awareness around inequality and benchmark progress toward
    a more diverse and inclusive industry.  
  2. Develop and share corporate practices and
    policies
    for a consistent drive toward increasing
    diversity and inclusion within our companies and the industry.
  3. Create a more diverse and inclusive pipeline
    of candidates in the renewable energy industry.
  4. Invest in the under-resourced and minority
    communities
    in which we work.

While we acknowledge that the steps we are taking now are some
of the first among many, we must start somewhere. It is clear that
we are stronger and more influential collectively and can drive
change more effectively together. 

Together as renewable industry leaders, we are actively working
to broaden this effort and make it long-lasting by partnering with
other companies and organizations starting with SEIA’s recently
formed board-level diversity, equity, inclusion and justice task
force that is working to establish objective criteria for measuring
progress on diversity in all facets of the solar industry.

Assess diversity and inclusion

Specifically, we are working with third-party consultants and
solar industry associations, such as SEIA and the Solar Foundation,
to build on the ongoing solar industry diversity and inclusion
survey work because we believe that transparency leads to
accountability and can drive change. The assessment will include
separate analyses of the field workforce, corporate staff,
management, C-suite and board members in the solar industry. This
is an industry funded effort with third-party validators.  

Develop and share corporate policies and resources

Our human resource and operational teams are working
collectively to create a toolkit for our industry. We will be
working with partners throughout the industry to educate one
another and publish this toolkit for human resource and management
professionals. Our intent is to create actionable guidance for all
companies in solar industry, and effort with the specific goal of
scalability and continuous change.

Create a more diverse pipeline

We will outline (1) the ecosystems of non-profits working to
create more access and opportunities for under-represented
candidates; (2) minority-owned businesses within the renewable
energy industry; and (3) build an industry-wide bridge between
minority and under-resourced communities in universities and
historically black colleges and universities. To begin with, we are
working with The Urban Alliance, based in the DC Metro area, that
is focused on developing access and opportunities for local
high-school students and actively looking for new organizations
nationwide. 

Invest in under-resourced communities

We are working collectively to invest in under-resourced
communities, and as a first step have focused on African American
communities with the goal of expanding to focus on a broader set of
impacts to communities and groups like the Latinx community, Native
American community and women. Initially, the group has coordinated
an educational, advocacy, community impact and fundraising effort
to support the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP), The Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Urban
League that now totals in excess of $100,000. We are also
prioritizing providing affordable solar services to these
communities.

Why this matters

Our diversity issue is not simply a hiring problem, but also an
issue of education, access, political voice, environmental impact,
community protection and sustainability. We cannot commit to
building a more sustainable, better future without committing to
addressing the inequities of the past and proactively building a
solution that elevates opportunity for all Americans.

Sincerely, CEO Collective:

Benoit Allehaut, Managing Director, Clean Energy Infrastructure
at CapitalDynamics; Sarah Slusser, CEO of Cypress Creek
Renewables; Tristan Grimbert, President and CEO of EDF Renewables;
Scott Jacobs, CEO of Generate Capital; Laura Stern, CEO of Nautilus
Solar Energy; Michael Healy, CEO of New Columbia Solar; Dan Shugar,
CEO of Nextracker; Gilbert Campbell, CEO of Volt Energy; Yuri
Horwitz, CEO of Sol Systems; Abby Hopper, CEO or the Solar Energy
Industries Association; and Andrea Lueke, President and Executive
Director of The Solar Foundation.

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Letter: It’s Time for the Solar Industry to Act on Diversity
and Inclusion