Washington, DC — The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is releasing a first-of-its-kind 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,” said 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, serve their communities, and 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,” said 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.
“SEIA continues to anchor the industry in the right direction,” said Maribelle Bostic, senior director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at SunPower. “Creating a diverse solar workforce and supply chain is not a nice-to-have, it’s an imperative, but many organizations don’t have the resources or programs in place that make it clear where to start. The DEIJ certification program provides a roadmap for any company, big or small, through their DEIJ journey and is an important step toward ensuring everyone plays a role in a more diverse future.”
“Inclusion is a growing and transparent component of Sungage Financial’s company culture,” said Michael Gilroy, CEO of Sungage Financial. “While we are a small team, passionate Sungagers continue to introduce new initiatives on a monthly basis. 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,” said 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. This unique and holistic approach is what the industry needs to evolve and thrive.”
“Alongside a growing understanding of the role of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in the success of a business, there is an increase in demand from not only employers and recruiters, but also job seekers for these types of programs,” said Kristen Graf, Executive Director of Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy. “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. We look forward to continuing to work with SEIA and renewable energy companies to ensure we have the diversity and talent we need across the supply chain.”
SEIA is deeply committed to DEIJ progress and has been working with its members and partners on a variety of ways to ensure the solar and storage industry grows in an equitable and inclusive way.
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,” said Markus Achord, Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Sunrun. “SEIA’s certification program provides the tools and best practices necessary to help organizations evolve their efforts. The customization of the program to meet each company’s goals and align with where they are on their DEIJ journey makes it a truly unique opportunity for any company to participate in.”