Introducing our EQUITABLE CLEAN ENERGY JOBS PROGRAM!

Solar Austin and our partners at Huston-Tillotson University (HT) are proud to announce the launch of our EQUITABLE CLEAN ENERGY JOBS PROGRAM. At its core, the program focuses on improving diversity and cultural inclusivity in Austin’s growing clean energy sector.

Studies show a lack of diversity throughout the clean energy sector. As of 2018, women represent 26% of the solar workforce and 21% of the wind energy workforce. Racial and ethnic minorities represent roughly 34% of the solar workforce and 31% of the wind energy workforce. These numbers show that the renewable energy industry has been falling short in adequately reflecting the diversity of the American people.

At this point, the inherent benefits of greater diversity, equity, and inclusivity in the workforce are all but uncontestable. When employees come from differing educational, ethnic, religious, political, and socioeconomic backgrounds, companies as a whole are shown to experience higher levels of creativity, resilience, and problem-solving capabilities. Gender and racial diversity are also clearly correlated with profitability, such that more diverse companies consistently outperform less diverse companies. Understanding this, more and more leaders across the energy field are naming diversity and equity as top business priorities. Well… then what’s the hold up? 

Solar Austin and HT University decided to dig deeper and learned that the continued lack of diversity stems in part from the industry’s reliance on word-of-mouth recruitment techniques and general unfamiliarity about the industry’s viable career pathways within educational and training programs. In other words, companies simply are not evolving their recruitment and retention methods to effectively support their organizational values. Women and students of color, on the other hand, are struggling to get their foot in the door, with many not knowing what door to even aim for. That’s why Solar Austin and HT University decided to step in. 

Thanks to an “Equitable Green Jobs” grant awarded by the City of Austin, Solar Austin and HT University are piloting a structured internship matching program to place women and students of color at solar and other clean energy companies throughout Austin. Our goal of the Equitable Clean Energy Jobs Program is to help facilitate pathways for underrepresented students into clean energy jobs and to develop a set of best practices for clean energy companies that want to improve diversity and inclusivity in their recruitment, hiring, and retention of staff.

Solar Austin has recruited Beryl Dann to run the program, and we are now actively recruiting companies to host summer interns and students to participate in this seminal program. If you’d like to learn more about the Equitable Clean Energy Jobs Program or about diversity in the U.S. workforce, we encourage you tocheck out the section of our website dedicated to this work or contact us at info@solaraustin.org.

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