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When Expectations Meet Reality: New Certification Program Helps Companies Follow Through on Diversity Promises

Wednesday, Jan 05 2022

Abigail Ross Hopper
Graphic that says "The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Certification Program. Now Open for Enrollment.

This blog post originally appeared on EnergySage.

As consumer expectations change, it’s on businesses to change with them. Many customers want to know that the companies they’re supporting are trying to make the world a more equitable place, and expectations around corporate social responsibility are higher than they’ve ever been

To be successful in this evolving marketplace, businesses need to meet customer demand for action with serious commitments. That means it’s time for companies to prioritize important issues such as diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) to create a more inclusive work environment, serve their communities and hire diverse talent.  

As the national trade association for America’s solar and storage industry, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is providing companies with the resources they need to advance diversity practices within their business. This starts with SEIA’s DEIJ Certification Program, a first-of-its-kind online certification program that rewards energy companies for the actions they take to put DEIJ best practices in place.  

The program is designed to meet companies where they’re at on diversity and can help companies that are just starting out, as well as others that are more advanced. Beginners can expect to tackle the basics, like creating a company statement on diversity and making sure hiring practices are compliant with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines. More advanced companies that already have diversity programs in place can use SEIA’s program to validate current practices, helping to add credibility to their brand.  

Numerous studies show that companies with more diverse teams are more successful. And for solar companies, the importance of diversity extends beyond the workforce and to their customer base as well. In order for the solar industry to achieve its goal of producing 30% of all U.S. electricity by 2030, solar adoption needs to grow in every community across America. That work starts with a strong commitment to a DEIJ at every solar company.  

SEIA’s certification program provides tools and guidance for companies as they analyze their DEIJ practices and implement proven workplace solutions. Through a series of webinars, educational tools, resource guides, and templates, SEIA offers businesses access to high-quality DEIJ resources developed by Certified Diversity Professionals, human resource experts and energy company executives. In addition to the online elements of the program, Certified Diversity Professionals will be monitoring company activity, offering support and feedback when a company submits a module, reviewing and scoring materials that companies submit, and hosting webinars for participants.  

As companies progress, they will be awarded Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum certification, helping them demonstrate to customers and stakeholders how the company is prioritizing diversity.  

SEIA established this program after releasing the Diversity Best Practices Guide and discovering that many solar businesses lacked the resources needed to implement these best practices. DEIJ consultants and services are in high-demand and can be cost-prohibitive for under-resourced companies, making the certification program a valuable resource to the thousands of small businesses operating in the clean energy industry.  

More than 70% of consumers have little faith that brands will deliver on their corporate social responsibility promises. That’s not surprising given that a promise to act is not a guarantee.  

The certification program offers companies the opportunity to move beyond conversations about diversity and onto a path of action and verifiable progress. The program adds a level of accountability and quality control that’s often missing in pledges and aspirational statements, helping companies live up to the expectations they set. Achieving SEIA’s DEIJ certification is a meaningful indicator that a company is committed to the issues their customers care about.  

Solar is poised for historic growth, and industry leaders have a responsibility and a business motivation to ensure the opportunities they create uplift people of all backgrounds. The DEIJ Certification Program is a key piece to achieving that vision.  

Can we count on your company to join us? Learn more by visiting SEIA’s online learning center.  

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