According to The Solar Foundation’s U.S Solar Industry Diversity Study 2019, today’s solar industry workforce “does not yet reflect America’s diverse population.” At the same time, solar companies consistently report that it is “very difficult” to find and hire qualified workers. This same dynamic exists in the energy and construction industries in general, creating structural challenges to organizational success.
Studies have consistently shown that workforce diversity and cultural inclusivity create stronger and more resilient organizations. When team members come from differing educational, ethnic, religious, political, and socioeconomic backgrounds, the company as a whole experiences higher levels of creativity, coherence, and problem-solving capabilities. Gender and racial diversity are clearly correlated with profitability, such that more diverse companies consistently outperform less diverse companies. Moreover, energy companies are better positioned to tap into new consumer markets when their office better represents the communities where they operate.
While internships can serve as part of the solution to this issue, unstructured internships can often fall flat, with interns feeling underutilized and companies feeling unprepared to engage the students. This leads to wasted time and effort. Lack of diversity in clean energy companies can also result in negative internship and early career experiences for students of color and women that strengthen the perception of environmental fields as unwelcoming or undesirable.
Solar Austin and Huston-Tillotson University (HT) aim to overcome these hurdles by piloting a structured internship matching program to place women and students of color at solar and other clean energy companies committed to providing rigorous internships that create pathways to the growing green jobs sector.
What The Equitable Clean Energy Jobs Program can do
for participating organizations:
- Match your company with under-represented students that are interested in pursuing careers in clean energy.
- Develop a set of best practices for your company to ensure a diverse and inclusive recruitment and hiring process.
- Empower you with a framework to participate in ongoing mentorship development.
- Strengthen your connections to the local community in partnership with Solar Austin and HT University to support women and students of color in Texas’ growing green jobs sector.
- Address the employment diversity challenge head-on by co-creating an innovative local program from its pilot phase.