Nonprofit group Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association released the 2019 U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study which is based on a national survey of almost 800 employers and workers in the solar industry.
The findings reveal that African Americans represent only 8% of the solar industry workforce, while women only 26%. Women also earn seven dollars less than men per hour.
The lack of diversity in the industry may be attributed to the recruitment methods used by solar companies which often rely on personal and professional networks and tend to overlook candidates from diverse backgrounds. Women of color are often required to provide more evidence of their competence compared to other candidates.
Solar Foundation President and Executive Director Andrea Luecke believes that the burgeoning solar industry is in a unique position to address the diversity problem because of the distributed nature of the technology and because solar occupations do not require higher education.
The Solar Foundation plans to team up with historically black colleges and universities to create a diverse employee pipeline in the near future. San Francisco-based solar equipment manufacturer Sunfolding provides referral bonuses to employees for recommended new hires who identify as LGBTQ, women or underrepresented minority.