Most solar installers and service technicians are men. So women in the industry often know what it’s like to be the only woman at a job site and to be treated differently because of their gender.
“When they do physical labor, there’s always someone trying to help them to lift the panels,” says Loraima Jaramillo of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. “They can do that. They don’t need help. They are just like any other worker.”
She says creating a more diverse and equitable solar workforce starts with hiring. She recommends actively recruiting and promoting more women and people from other underrepresented groups.
For example, her organization helped recruit a woman and a transgender man to work on a solar installation at a large public market in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
But it takes more than contracts to advance equity. Jaramillo says it’s also critical to build a workplace culture that enables all employees to thrive — for example, by leading diversity and equity trainings.
“Not just the leadership of the organization, but the rest of the team needs to understand that this is a place for everyone, and everyone has the same value and can do the job,” she says.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media