At Standard Solar, we’ve always believed in the value of diversity—diversity of thought, experience, background and ethnicity. The broader the number and variety of insights you have on a problem, the more creative the solutions you’ll have to solve it.

So when the Solar Energy Industries Association and The Solar Foundation brought us the idea of sponsoring their second industry-wide diversity study, we jumped at the chance. We believe the U.S. solar industry should be as diverse as the nation it serves, and it will take a concerted effort on behalf of the industry’s leaders to make that dream a reality.

The good news is that people are more aware of the problem. The U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study 2019 found that solar companies are doing a better job of tracking employee demographics and generally provide positive work environments for their employees. The bad news is that there is a lack of diversity in the leadership ranks of the solar industry, and there are significant gaps in job satisfaction and wages for minorities and women who choose to make the industry their professional home.

Only 36% of solar companies track their employees’ demographics, up from 27% in just two years. That metric is not perfect, of course, but it’s an indication that more companies are figuring out that they need to be more inclusive in their hiring and career-path tracking. The old axiom that you can’t track what you don’t measure applies here, and solar companies are getting on board with the importance of tracking their diversity efforts.

But unfortunately, there are still significant challenges. Women are still only getting paid 74 cents for every dollar men make in the industry, an inexcusable wage gap (especially since the leaders of the five major solar associations are women). In addition, 52% of men feel they have successfully moved up the career ladder, compared to only 37% of women.

The study also found a problem with the way the solar industry finds its employees, as most solar employees are recruited by word of mouth. Unlike their white counterparts, 28% of Hispanic or Latino employees found jobs that way, and 28% of blacks found their jobs that way (compared with 49% and 44% for whites, respectively).

At Standard Solar, we have taken the goals of this study to heart and have created a Diversity and Inclusion Council to help us do a better job of making the company as diverse as it can be. The council has four major goals. They are to:

1. Promote and support company-wide diversity awareness.

2. Plan and implement diverse activities both in the office and throughout our community to foster a more cohesive workplace.

3. Recommend and promote policies, programs and other initiatives that will attract and retain a diverse mix of staff.

4. Examine formal and informal processes and recommend changes that foster greater inclusion.

We believe this council will make us a better company to work for and will encourage us to become the company that the leadership and its employees aspire to be.

p.s. – we are hiring!