MARCH 2, 2021
Our Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives: From Grassroots to the Boardroom
Borrego’s on a mission to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy, and we know the best way to achieve our goals is by having a diverse and inclusive workforce.
How D&I Started at Borrego
Borrego’s D&I efforts have been built from the ground up, through employee-led initiatives and organization. Initially, a few years ago, our female employees formed a semi-formal internal group to create a space to network and grow. This group, known as Women of Borrego, began outlining objectives and goals and started some of our first employee-led outreach specifically talking about diversity and inclusion.
In early 2019, we stepped in as co-chairs of the group and expanded the scope beyond gender to include all dimensions of diversity. We revamped the group, renamed ourselves People EmPOWERed, and recruited a cross-departmental steering committee. We also collaborated with the People + Culture team (P+C) to formalize our goals for creating and achieving a diverse workforce and fostering a company culture that values the perspectives, skills, strengths and contributions of all employees, regardless of race, gender, age or other dimensions of diversity.
Executive leadership support of People EmPOWERed was easy.
Internal support from the executive team was easy, as D&I was a shared personal core value that had just not yet made it into the company’s documented values and processes. Within months, People EmPOWERed became a company-wide name and was launched internally with a key spot on the agenda at our annual employee summit.
With executive sponsorship, the People EmPOWERed steering committee first focused on establishing a group charter for the employee platform, which included our mission, purpose, scope, problem statement and objectives. We also created a formal feedback loop from People EmPOWERed to Mike Hall, our CEO, and our head of People + Culture. Together, we travelled across the company to conduct focus groups on D&I to build awareness and ascertain what were the most pressing issues from our employees’ perspective
During those focus groups, we also asked for feedback on our most recent diversity and inclusion survey — something we do annually to understand our employee satisfaction and issues involving D&I. In the 2019 annual engagement survey, we noticed a distinct gap between responses from employees who identified as female or unspecified and those who identified themselves as male relating to how inclusive and fair they felt Borrego and its culture was. Because of this survey, some of the first D&I objectives were focused on awareness and inclusion for women at Borrego. In the two years since that initial survey, we have broadened our focus to include all aspects of diversity and inclusion because of its importance to our employees and executive leadership team.
Moving into Action
In 2020, People EmPOWERed moved beyond employee surveys and goal-setting to take the lead, both as a company and with employee led activities, to foster diversity and inclusion in our organization and the greater solar industry.
One of the first steps our CEO, Mike Hall, took was to join and start participating in the CEO Action Network, the largest CEO-driven business coalition committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Taking this step was a public declaration of what our company already values about creating and fostering a diverse workforce — and an important way to hold ourselves accountable for driving change and understanding within the organization.
To foster employee engagement and education, Borrego began putting more employee resources behind D&I initiatives including a monthly D&I newsletter and monthly awareness-building activities around themes such as cultural celebrations, LGBTQ issues, anti-racism, gender equality and women’s empowerment. And getting back to our roots, we also rolled out AC WATT (A Collective of Women Across the Team) which is a safe space for female-identifying employees across our businesses to learn more about each other and share resources.
One of the inherent challenges to fostering diversity within an organization often starts with unconscious bias, and to address this issue Borrego also implemented and completed mandatory unconscious bias training for all employees. Working with our People & Culture team, the People EmPOWERed committee conducted follow up workshops on bias training to give employees an opportunity to engage with the content and each other on these important issues.
As we head into 2021, we’re still an employee-led committee with strong backing from our executive leadership and People + Culture team — and we have goals for expansion. This year, a big focus for our group is to continue raising awareness and encouraging behavior change, and focus on these primary objectives:
- Increasing awareness of race and gender discrimination, inequality and/or uninclusive behavior experienced in the workplace (both internally and externally), and to improve engagement with these topics in order to meaningfully respond to such behaviors and minimize such experiences among all Borrego employees
- Creating the tools, programs, and policies for the ongoing promotion of women in leadership at Borrego
- Increase female and minority representation in our candidate pools
In one of our first initiatives this year, we celebrated Black History Month , we were honored to invite Kellie Wagner, CEO of Collective, to deliver a company-wide keynote presentation to our staff. Her talk, “Why Black Heritage Month Needs a Pride-Style Makeover” touched on the history of Black History Month (hint, it has been around since the 1970s) and shared what it really means to foster diversity in the workforce. We’ll be following up this talk with small group sessions to discuss the content, challenge our ideas, and do the critical work of anti-racism.
Our Diversity Statement
Also new this year, we collaborated with our executive team to write and launch a formal Diversity Statement to serve as our true north and guide us through the next phase of our diversity, inclusion, and equity goals. It’s simple and straightforward, and plainly states our core values:
At Borrego, we believe in having a diverse workforce and we value the perspectives, skills, experiences and contributions of all employees. We want all of our employees to feel that they belong, are included and are empowered to be their most authentic selves at work.
We acknowledge we are early in our journey and are not satisfied with our company’s or industry’s status quo. We are committed to proactively driving change in our own organization and pushing the industry and society to transform.
We’re Also Hiring
One of the most obvious metrics of a company’s diversity is its makeup of women and minority representation in leadership and across the company, and it was clear to us that not only do we need improvement in this area but that we also aren’t making progress fast enough. Before we could improve this, we needed to understand our baseline and set some measurable goals. Working with People + Culture, we now have transparent, internal data showing our gender and ethnic diversity across our company and in leadership positions, along with comparisons to the industry. We also understand the countermeasures we can take to address our concerns. Together with P+C, we’ve created 2021 goals to increase the diversity of our candidate pools and measure progress at each stage in the hiring process.
With recent news that we’ve shifted our strategic focus and pivoted into utility scale, we’re currently planning to grow our workforce by 25% in 2021. To learn more about careers at Borrego, please take a look at our current job postings. We’re also planning to hire a full-time Diversity & Inclusion manager later this year, so keep your eyes out for the announcement if you’re interested or know someone for this role.
As an employee-led initiative, People EmPOWERed has been driving D&I efforts internally and bringing forward the issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity across our teams. We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in the last two years, and are on the trajectory for an exciting 2021. But we’ve also learned a few things that might help similar employee-led groups.
First, we found that we need to be really clear and specific on our mission, objectives and goals. And although we’ve always had executive support, we think we could have benefitted from engaging with an external D&I consultant earlier on to help guide and prioritize our efforts.
At Borrego, we know our responsibility to society is greater than the megawatts of clean energy we deliver.
Just as we’re working to fight climate change by accelerating renewable energy production, we are also working to transform ourselves and the solar industry in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion. Stay tuned for more stories on our efforts and let us know how you think we are doing. You can reach us at PeopleEmPOWERed@borregosolar.com.