“Diversity should be supported for one’s own sake”.
Diversity is important. Not only is it important, but it is also a link to a company’s (and industry) success. Companies in the top 25% for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have above average financial returns. With this is mind, is it surprising that many companies still lag when it comes to diverse representation internally, and completely miss the key to unlocking their success.
It is a shocking revelation for many that the Clean Technology Industry is amongst those not unlocking this potential. This sector is home to the most innovative technology, R&D, minds, and teams in the world, yet still has some of the lowest percentage representation of woman and those form racial & ethnic minority backgrounds.
However, in 2021, leaders within the industry are reflecting and looking deeper at themselves, promising to make change and address the lack of diversity internally. The industry is built and run by people aligned on values of sustainability and making a positive impact in the world, and it is this mindset that gives hope when it comes to the topic of diversity.
Those from a range of diverse backgrounds are needed at the decision-making tables. We must make a commitment to identify, attract and develop those voices, and strengthen teams across the clean energy ecosystem.
There is a transition needed, and a lot of work to be done.
Twelve months ago, we launched the Women In Clean Tech initiative here at Hyperion Executive Search, committing to support our clients (and the Clean Tech industry as a whole) in promoting and achieving greater gender diversity within their teams.
This initiative created a safe and encouraging environment for women to grow and develop, share success stories, and be inspired by those already leading the way. Throughout that time, I have been incredibly lucky to connect with some of the most senior female leaders in the Clean Technology Industry, and from that I have learnt invaluable lessons. I have learnt how failure is the truest form of growth, to always value what you bring to the table and most importantly, that I am not alone.
As a collective group, woman know first-hand the challenges faced when trying to break into industries we are traditionally underrepresented within. But we also know change is happening and there is strength in our community.
We are now faced with the task of tackling greater lack of diversity, by using our strength in numbers and standing as allies with minority groups who are also limited by the challenges that come with underrepresentation.
With this in mind, we at Hyperion have decided to launch the Diversity in Clean Tech Initiative, widening, and increasing our efforts to include all groups of society and put our commitment to finding the best talent, for the most innovative clean tech companies, to the test. We aim to champion diversity as a whole and bring a wide range of people to the heart of the energy transition.
We do not claim to have all the answers or solutions. However, we do claim to care. Authentically care and commit to doing what we can internally, with our clients and within the wider industry to begin the conversation of breaking down barriers. We aim to inspire and support those from minority backgrounds to develop their careers in the sector, as well as provide a platform to speak out on industry issues and influence policy debate.
While contributing to overall climate goals, clean tech startups have the chance to create new opportunities where diversity, equity and inclusion can be used as a tool to build a better society and planet.
The Clean tech sector can lead by example to do all that we can to utilise strategy and assist others on their journey to building a robust and diverse company.
Diversity must be a long-term and continual effort that is meaningfully embedded into all aspects of a company, internally and externally.
With a new workforce, comes new standards and expectations. Today, those entering the workforce are more likely to be socially and environmentally conscious, with a diverse team being a key attractive factor about a potential company. More diverse companies therefore are better able to attract and retain talent and have overall increased employee satisfaction, ultimately leading to more success.
The Clean Technology industry is often described as radical or innovative, but the real test of future thinking is being revolutionary in who companies hire and provide opportunities for.
There is no time like the present and the current pandemic could be an opportunity to start again.
“Let’s take advantage of this resetting of the world’s priorities to build a new future that truly works for everyone,” said Clovis Honoré, outreach coordinator at Grid Alternatives and past president of the San Diego branch of the NAACP.
By Aine Crossan