SEIA has created supplier diversity guides and resources for the industry, but companies overwhelmingly stated that the biggest barrier to implementation was finding diverse businesses working in the solar industry.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is releasing the Diverse Suppliers Database, a free platform that will highlight and elevate minority, women, disabled, veteran, and LGBTQ+ owned businesses operating in the solar and storage industries. More than 120 diverse companies are listed in the database, and the platform will remain open for submissions.
The database will help solar companies more thoughtfully consider their supplier networks and partnerships. The businesses listed in the database represent a variety of companies, including solar and storage installers, roofers, construction companies, electrical contractors, and other vendors or service providers in the solar and energy storage sectors.
"The $30 billion solar and storage industry is filled with tremendous opportunities, but our future success depends on our ability to expand our reach and welcome more diverse businesses to the industry," said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). "SEIA's supplier diversity database will create business connections for company leaders across America and throughout the solar industry supply chain. Solar companies are eager to implement business practices that create a more inclusive and diverse solar industry and this tool can support that goal."
SEIA has been working to advance supplier diversity for a number of years. According to a 2020 solar installer survey from EnergySage, 81% of solar respondents did not track supplier diversity. This number remains largely unchanged from 2019.
SEIA has created supplier diversity guides and resources for the industry, but companies overwhelmingly stated that the biggest barrier to implementation was finding diverse businesses working in the solar industry. In addition to the information asymmetry, there were financial barriers as well. There are supplier diversity databases available, however, they are not specific to the solar and storage industry and the fees they charge can be prohibitive to the many small businesses operating in the industry.
These challenges have persisted and prevented solar companies from making progress on supplier diversity.
To ensure equitable outcomes for the businesses listed in the database and to boost participation, SEIA partnered with Black Owners of Solar Services (BOSS) on methodology and recruitment. BOSS is one of the largest groups of African American professionals working in the solar industry.
"America's 21st century economic recovery will be centered on racial justice and climate resilience, and businesses owned by people of color must help lead the way," said Ajulo Othow, founder and CEO of EnerWealth Solutions and chair of the BOSS Advisory Committee. "Many times, DEIJ measures miss the mark because they fail to include diverse professionals in both program design and access to bona fide transactions. We at BOSS applaud SEIA for recognizing the value of diverse teams, especially for this impactful initiative. SEIA's supplier diversity database is a necessary and welcomed step in our work together."
SEIA's Diverse Suppliers Database is a free, easy-to-use platform that enables users to sort, filter, and keyword search for diverse businesses that provide services throughout the solar and storage supply chain. The companies listed are diverse-owned businesses, meaning at least 51% of the company is owned or controlled by:
• Minorities (Black/African American, Indigenous/Alaska Native, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Other);
• Disabled persons;
• Service disabled veterans;
• LGBTQ+ community members; and/or
In addition to these classifications, the database also recognizes companies classified as a Small Businesses, Small Disadvantaged Businesses, or Historically Underutilized Businesses. Companies meeting any of the criteria above are encouraged to submit their company information to the database.
The solar industry is deeply committed to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, and has been working to make tangible progress on these issues in the solar industry.
The database is another outcome of SEIA's DEIJ Leadership Council and includes input from a variety of solar companies that will use and/or be listed in the database. The DEIJ Leadership Council is also responsible for SEIA's new environmental justice policy platform and is gearing up to launch an industry certification program in the fall for solar and storage companies.
Diverse-owned businesses also stand to gain from this new resource.
"As a minority owned solar developer, I've encountered key clients that were unaware that black owned solar development firms like Volt Energy existed while procuring solar," said Gilbert Campbell, CEO of Volt Energy. "The supplier diversity database will be a great resource for solar buyers and other key stakeholders that want to identify the growing number of minority-owned solar firms across the supply chain."
"There are so many women, veteran and other diverse-owned renewable energy businesses across the country, and this is an incredibly important tool to connect those companies to prospective buyers," said Donnel Baird, founder of BlocPower. "The database will help BlocPower and firms like ours generate more potential clients, and we look forward to putting it into practice."
Several companies voiced support for SEIA's supplier diversity database:
"It's our goal as an organization to not only promote inclusivity and innovation internally, but also across our supply chain," said George Hershman, President of Swinerton Renewable Energy and SEIA Board Chair. "SEIA's Supplier Diversity Database empowers solar companies to meaningfully engage diverse suppliers in all areas of their business, fostering entrepreneurship. generating opportunity, and expanding representation for all Americans within our industry."
"At SunPower, we are committed to creating a strong culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. This is true for our employees, but also extends beyond our workforce to the communities we serve and our vendors and partners," said Maribelle Bostic, Senior Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at SunPower. "We expect the database to be a valuable resource to raise the visibility of a diverse set of solar industry businesses and plan to use it as a first point of contact for new vendors and partners."
"The SEIA Supplier Diversity database represents forward action to solve real DEIJ challenges we face in the solar industry," says Bruce Ledesma, President at Nextracker. "Nextracker plans on using this valuable resource to diversify our supply chain and in sourcing day to day vendors and partners. Let's make informed decisions for a richer, more inclusive solar industry."
"Sunnova's success is powered by the diversity of our people — our employees, customers, dealers, partners and the communities we serve — and we believe we can achieve more when we work together to advance collaboration, inclusion, and long-term trusted relationships in the solar industry," said Kelsey Hultberg, EVP, Chief of Staff at Sunnova. "Through SEIA's Supplier Diversity database, we look forward to supporting more solar industry businesses to drive an equitable clean energy future."
"SEIA's Supplier Diversity database is an important step forward toward improving the inclusivity of the solar industry," said Scott Wiater, president and CEO of Standard Solar. "As an industry leader, we believe diversity and inclusion make our community stronger, and we will be taking advantage of this resource to ensure our suppliers are as diverse as possible."
"We're committed to the continued diversification of the industry," said Karla Loeb, Chief Policy and Development Officer at Sigora Solar. "At Sigora we work every day to support and advance DEIJ initiatives, including the database, to ensure a diverse, equitable, inclusive and just industry and energy market. This is a great resource that our entire industry can use to elevate and support more diverse businesses, an imperative if we are to fully realize our goals."
"For over 35 years, EDF Renewables North America has worked with hundreds of communities across the continent building long-standing relationships with local leaders and neighbors," said Dirk Ruitenberg, Senior Director of Supply Chain at EDF Renewables North America. "Our projects provide jobs, tax revenues, landowner payments and other sources of local economic development. We are eager to use SEIA's Supplier Diversity Database as it will help us identify local and diverse-owned businesses more efficiently as we move our development activity into emerging solar markets."
"The SEIA Diversity Best Practices Guide will aide our procurement team in achieving internal and external customer diversity goals," said Dan Diamond Vice President of Construction at Sol Systems. "As we continue to expand our focus and further diversify our supply chain, the supplier database will be a helpful resource."
Learn more about SEIA's diversity efforts at seia.org/diversity.
The Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA) is leading the transformation to a clean energy economy, creating the framework for solar to achieve 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies and other strategic partners to fight for policies that create jobs in every community and shape fair market rules that promote competition and the growth of reliable, low-cost solar power. Founded in 1974, SEIA is the national trade association for the solar and solar + storage industries, building a comprehensive vision for the Solar+ Decade through research, education and advocacy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.