Written by: Leonard Parker | Solar News | 02nd June
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;Veterans;LGBTQ+ community members; and/orWomen.
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.