How can renewables companies increase workplace diversity?
As we’ve written about previously on this blog, the energy sector has some way to go in addressing gender imbalance – and renewable energy is no exception. Rebecka Klintström, who leads Clir Renewables’ inclusion and diversity initiative, shares her thoughts on what companies can do to benefit from increased workplace diversity.
How do businesses benefit from workplace diversity?
Inclusion and diversity in the workplace have become a focus during recent years, after numerous studies have cited that diversity in the workplace leads to increased profitability.
Creating an inclusive and diverse workplace is an ongoing process and not simply a box-ticking exercise. It should form part of the daily work environment and be present in everyone’s mind regardless of their role within in the company.
At Clir Renewables, that’s something we’re proud to be working towards. Aside from being a renewable energy company and as such wanting to make the world a more sustainable place, the fact that companies with better diversity figures and focus on inclusion are more profitable is a big plus. Having different backgrounds, experiences and cultures in a team will bring more views to the table and will, in turn, help our organization to be more creative.
So how do we get there?
Gender and recruitment
Initially, we decided to tackle this in recruiting, working out more inclusive processes for hiring, from interviews and salaries to onboarding. What gets measured gets done - so one part of the inclusion work should always be to create tools that enable companies to understand how to continuously improve.
A great place to start is job postings as bias easily play a role in how the job description is worded, thereby influencing the pool of applicants from which we ultimately hire. To avoid this as much as possible, it's important to make sure to eliminate unnecessary specifics or redundant skills as this may discourage certain groups to apply - research shows that women tend to apply to jobs only when they satisfy 100% of the requirements.
Gender and language
It's also important to use neutral language, avoiding gendered pronouns or descriptors that unconsciously appeal to certain groups while discouraging others. To start the process, we have used Kat Matfield's gender decoder tool as a first check, and we have also found that having review routines for postings and other material has been very efficient. We have also created a number of key performance indicators for inclusion and diversity, which we measure on a regular basis and communicate to staff through an internal newsletter.
It's important to make sure the entire company is aware of the inclusion and diversity initiative, from the CEO to junior hires. One way is to organize workshops to brainstorm new focus areas and deepen the knowledge and understanding of the inclusion challenges within the company and in the industry in general.
To this end, we’ve just launched a bi-weekly survey to get a broader understanding of how everyone in the team experiences our work environment and company culture. This will enable us to identify the core areas where we need to focus going forward.
Since we're also in the process of hiring new talent in our tech, sales, and operations teams, we have an excellent opportunity to test our new recruiting and interviewing tools we've developed as a part of the project together with key personnel from each team.
We’ve known from an early stage that the company would be quick to expand, so having a strategy was important to us. Gradually, this strategy is taking us from 12% female staff when I started in February 2017, to 28% at the beginning of 2018 to where we are today with 45% (figure from September 2018). For technical staff, we're currently at 57%1 women, including some of the most recent hires on our software team.
Obviously, gender is only one of many measures of diversity but it’s a good place to start from. We’re striving to build an inclusive and diverse company culture that people want to join. To achieve this, we will continue to work on and implement our inclusion and diversity strategy.