Solar Industry Launches Diversity Improvement Certification Program

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released an online program to help energy companies take a series of actionable steps on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ).

The DEIJ Certification Program provides training and support for companies to analyze their DEIJ practices and implement workplace solutions that improve diversity. Participating companies accumulate points for the activities they complete and can achieve Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum certification.

The program is launching alongside SEIA’s new online learning center, where members can access SEIA’s archived webinar content and other resources. SEIA is asking companies to sign up for the program and begin working through the modules that will help them achieve certification.

“If we reach our goals in the Solar+ Decade, we’re going to have numerous opportunities to hire people from diverse backgrounds,” states Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “As the trade association for one of the fastest-growing industries in America, we’ve long recognized the importance of incorporating DEIJ priorities into all aspects of our work. This program will empower companies to take tangible steps on DEIJ, helping to ensure that the new opportunities we create are available to all Americans.”

The program encourages broad participation and rewards companies that are working in earnest to create a more inclusive work environment and serve their communities as well as attract, hire, promote and retain diverse talent.

“SEIA’s DEIJ Certification Program is a pioneering initiative that demonstrates the solar industry’s commitment to making enduring change,” says Laura Stern, co-CEO of Nautilus Solar Energy and chair of the member working group behind the program. “It is an essential tool to help guide dedicated companies from intention to action.”

The program was designed by Diversity Certified Professionals and uses an evidence-based approach to improving diversity practices within companies. The program was also designed so that all companies, regardless of their size, geographic footprint or resources, can achieve the highest levels of certification.

“Inclusion is a growing and transparent component of Sungage Financial’s company culture,” comments Michael Gilroy, CEO of Sungage Financial. “SEIA’s DEIJ Certification Program allows us to guide that passion with best practices, demonstrate our commitment both internally and externally, and continue investing in our cultural progress.”

Dozens of renewable energy companies beta-tested the certification program, and many organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE), American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), and Black Owned Solar Services (BOSS), contributed to the program.

“SEIA’s DEIJ Certification Program provides companies with concrete steps they can take to improve current practices, ultimately making the solar and storage industry more inclusive and equitable,” says Ajulo Othow, founder and CEO of EnerWealth Solutions and chair of the BOSS Advisory Committee. “BOSS is excited to continue its ongoing partnership with SEIA to ensure all businesses serving the solar energy industry are diverse.”

A diverse solar workforce is imperative, and the DEIJ certification program offers insight and a roadmap to companies of any size with steps to achieve that, mentions Maribelle Bostic, senior director of diversity, equity and inclusion at SunPower.

“SEIA is supporting the solar industry’s move from ambition to action by offering concrete tools and a process to qualify the work, benchmark and showcase projects,” agrees Kristen Graf, executive director of Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy.

In June 2020, SEIA and its members launched a board-level task force called the DEIJ Leadership Council to drive the development of DEIJ-focused policies and programs for the solar industry. This new program is part of the council’s work, which also includes a supplier diversity database for the solar industry and a suite of policy principles on environmental justice and equity.

“The solar industry is experiencing tremendous growth and leading organizations in this industry understand how critical it is to foster a culture of inclusivity and create more diverse workforces to meet this growth,” adds Markus Achord, head of diversity, inclusion and belonging at Sunrun.

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