Posted by Rosana Francescato
This post was originally published on PV Solar Report.
The solar industry has been growing by leaps and bounds, and women are making their presence known in the industry. More groups are focusing on women in solar, and you can no longer go overboard with exhibition booth babes without causing a stir. But while the Women in Solar Breakfastat Solar Power International is consistently sold out, there’s room for improvement when it comes to women in the industry.
Enter SunEdison, a leader in semiconductor and solar technology, and GRID Alternatives, the nation’s largest nonprofit solar installer. SunEdison, Inc. (NYSE:SUNE) and the SunEdison Foundation recently announced a $1.2 million philanthropic partnership with GRID Alternatives.
Together the organizations are launching a National Women in Solar Initiative. Their goal? To increase the number of women in the solar industry and support their professional advancement.
What does this mean? The investment is both financial and in the form of solar panels. It directly supports GRID Alternatives’ mission to bring solar power and solar job training to underserved communities throughout the United States.
This is not only good for women — it’s also good for the industry and it makes good business sense. It’s been documented that companies with more diversity, including more women, are more effective and make more money.
As Ahmad Chatila, CEO of SunEdison, said, “Taking this step to create and advance the Women in Solar Initiative is not only the right thing to do, it is a smart business investment. The continued success of the solar industry depends on recruiting and nurturing the best and brightest people, and this initiative is going to help do exactly that.”
Under the terms of the agreement, GRID Alternatives will provide hands-on training and real-world experience in solar system installation to over 1,000 women across the country. In addition, GRID Alternatives will provide 20 women with one-year paid fellowships to work in the solar industry. GRID Alternatives will also host a national series of solar installation events and other networking opportunities for both current women executives and up-and-coming professional women looking to advance in the solar industry. The first event will take place on April 25 in Denver.
“GRID Alternatives’ volunteer model provides women a pathway to access a variety of careers in an industry that added jobs at a rate of 20 percent last year,” said Erica Mackie, co-founder and CEO of GRID Alternatives. “Women’s talents and voices will be critical to the solar industry’s continued growth, and we are thrilled to be partnering with SunEdison to increase their participation in this field.”
In addition to SunEdison’s philanthropic investment, volunteers from SunEdison will get on the roof with GRID Alternatives employees to help install solar electric systems for low-income families around the country.
Rosana Francescato is Director of Communications at Sunible.com, an online marketplace that’s radically simplifying the home solar buying experience. She’s on the board of Women in Cleantech and Sustainability and the steering committee of theLocal Clean Energy Alliance. She’s been the top individual fundraiser at the GRID Alternatives Bay Area Solarthon four years in a row.
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