No. 2 EPC dedicates resources to diversity and inclusion

during the past Several years of increasing political and racial unrest, the country saw many companies take various steps to be part of the solution rather than silent bystanders. For some companies, that meant unconscious bias training or reading assignments. For others, it meant taking an in-depth look at the company’s makeup and investing in resources to make it more representative of the nation’s population.

Minnesota based Blattner (No. 2 on the list of the best solar contractors of 2022) was one such company that consciously celebrates and promotes diversity.

The company brought in Shannon Lueck as Inclusion and Diversity Program Manager. This job title is often referred to as “JEDI” as it supports fairness, equity, diversity and inclusion.

“We are taking active steps to promote inclusion at Blattner,” said Lueck. “It’s about the culture we create, and one way we create an inclusive culture is by attracting and developing great, diverse talent.”

For Lueck, inclusion begins with an assessment of the company’s current workforce composition. although Blattner didn’t share exact numbers, Lueck said the company tops national labor statistics for women in construction. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2021, women make up 11% of all construction workers. Blattner says his field teams are more than 50% diverse.

“We have shared with leaders where we are with demographics and women in leadership and women in the field. Who are those people, how do we identify them, how do we develop them?” she said.

Once a baseline is established, Lueck will help Blattner set goals for recruiting and developing diverse talent at all levels.

“Women in solar leadership, field and corporate roles often offer a unique perspective on their approach to solving business challenges. The more we can broaden our understanding of different points of view and embrace different lenses of diversity, the better our bottom line will be,” said Lueck. “At Blattner, we are committed to promoting women in all roles within our company.”

One way to hire and retain diverse employees is to form dedicated support groups to promote the community. Blattner recently started a Women’s Resource Group after seeing the success of his veterans’ resource group called HEROES. The HEROES group helped Blattner create a special bond with his experienced workforce of more than 170 people.

Lueck said she sees potential for additional resource groups for marginalized populations at the company. She believes that these tactile and sustained efforts are far more pervasive to culture than a one-off, reactionary training about gender or racial differences.

“My personal advice is don’t start with unconscious bias training. It starts with really systematic change. Where do we recruit, how do we engage, how do we connect through employee resource groups?” she said.

Including health care and other benefits that attract women and other underrepresented communities are also important for diversifying new talent. Blattner was acquired by Quanta Services in 2021, so the company is rethinking its benefits, putting inclusion and diversity first. Both the veteran and women worker groups have input into the process.

“We’ve started discussions about where those benefits might go. It’s a priority for the organization,” said Lueck.

Oftentimes, “inclusion and diversity” become buzzwords companies use when checking a training off the list or releasing a statement after a tragic event. Deploying top-down to change takes time, effort and investment. New jobs dedicated to these issues could help solar construction companies like Blattner stick to the plan in the long run.

This story was featured exclusively in our issue 2022 Top Solar Contractors. Check out the issue and full list of best solar installers in the US here.

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