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By Krysta Riggle and Ira-Sofia Giovanetti

Last time in DEI Diaries, we introduced the work that we are currently doing to create a safe environment for discussion and growth at BayWa r.e. Solar Systems. Today, let’s pivot to more tactical advice on a critical aspect of improving equity and inclusion in the solar workplace: the recruiting and hiring process. We want to share some changes we’re currently making to our procedures — and we hope you can find helpful elements to adopt for your business.

Language

We currently use an HR software that automatically posts jobs to two major online job boards. While this brings in a sufficient number of candidates, it doesn’t deliberately help us increase the diversity of our team.

To increase the diversity of potential candidates, we first have to take care with the language we use in our job postings — reviewing them to make sure it doesn’t unintentionally alienate great recruits. We learned that being mindful with your job description vocabulary can make a big difference. For example, gender-coded words (such as “manpower” or only using male pronouns) can significantly reduce the number of women that apply. One website that can help you with eliminating or balancing gender-coded words is the Gender Decoder for Job Ads.

Qualifications

It is also important to keep the job postings short and trim the list of qualifications down. That is because studies show that while men are likely to apply to jobs for which they meet only 60% of the qualifications, women are much more likely to hesitate unless they meet 100% of the listed requirements. Important: we are NOT saying “lower your qualifications” — we are saying “get to the point” and list what qualifications really matter.

In our job postings, we are trying to make it clear that we are welcoming candidates who have the skills but are also committed to learning and growing. We are not looking for candidates who already have done everything, we are looking for learners who are motivated to take on challenges and display a growth mindset. We offer the opportunity for continuous learning and advancement and we hope that we can attract candidates from underrepresented groups by mentioning that in our job postings.

We should also be mindful of socioeconomic biases that can create barriers to applicants. Consider the position that you are looking to fill and its actual duties — and leave out mentioning a degree if it is not needed. Don’t miss out on recruiting great expertise and instincts, just because a candidate was not able to afford a degree.

Benefits

Benefits are also important. For BayWa r.e. Solar Systems job postings, we are very clear about explaining benefits that relate to family care and personal leave, such as such as 12 weeks of paid family leave (maternity and paternity), 401k with match, health insurance and unlimited PTO on our job postings.

We also added our commitment to establishing a diverse and inclusive environment on the bottom of our job postings. We are making major strides toward becoming a more welcoming and inclusive workplace, and we want to show that.

Where to Post Jobs

Once you’ve crafted your solar job posting, we encourage you to expand the networks and websites where you advertise. Below are several employment resources that can help you reach a wider, more inclusive talent base:

A word on access: BayWa r.e. Solar Systems is also actively working with external partners to get our company ready to hire previously incarcerated individuals and people with disabilities. Part of this groundwork is creating and implementing policies that would make everyone feel welcome regardless of physical or emotional ability, or outside circumstances. This work is a company-wide, long-term journey requiring consistency, humility, and empathy — so stay tuned on our progress.

Hiring

Congratulations on scouting out some great applicants! Now, how can you make sure your selection process also considers equity and inclusion?

At BayWa r.e. Solar Systems, we’ve done a lot of work to improve on our hiring process over the last 18 months. Once an individual submits their resume, we work through the following steps — see how it compares with the current HR process at your solar business

Step 1: Candidate resumes for preliminary criteria.

Here we aim to focus on what really is required for the position and not the things that might be “nice to have”. Studies show that while men are likely to apply to jobs for which they meet only 60% of the qualifications, women are much more likely to hesitate unless they meet 100% of the listed requirements.

Step 2: Follow up.

If the application sparks our interest, candidates will be asked to send in more information about themselves by responding to a written prompt. Our goal here is to make sure candidates can meet their agreements and that they have good written communication skills.

Step 3: Initial review.

Candidate assignments are reviewed and those that meet the criteria are invited by the PX team to schedule a phone screen with standard questions. During the phone screen, we give all candidates the same information about our company and ask them all the exact same questions. By staying consistent throughout the process, we aim to reduce our biases.

Step 4: Callbacks.

Candidates that move on from the phone screen phase are scheduled for a 1:1 hiring manager interview. This is a good time for candidates to ask questions about the role.

Step 5: Peer interviews.

Candidates that move on from the hiring manager interview will take part in a peer interview. The peer interview involves PX + 3-4 employees that represent various areas of the company in order to get a diverse range of perspectives and to create an opportunity for the candidate to get to know others within the company.

Step 6: Peer review.

The peer interview team, hiring manager, and PX review the candidates. This is a great time for the hiring manager to challenge beliefs and assumptions they have about the candidates by getting feedback from others within the company.

Step 7: Hiring decision.

The hiring manager will decide about which candidate to make an offer to.

Since implementing these changes to the hiring process, we have seen a positive impact on the quality of candidates that we eventually offer positions to. During the phone screen phase, many interviewees mentioned that our commitment to establishing a diverse and inclusive environment on the bottom of the job posting, and the fact that we mention our DEI committee, convinced them to apply. They said that they would like to work for an employer that is supporting diversity, equity and inclusion.

Our Next Steps

Our work is ongoing. While we believe this recruitment and hiring process provides major benefits to reduce bias and embraces fairness and equity, there are areas that we can improve. Our next steps for improvement include:

  • Bias training for everyone involved in the hiring process
  • Sending upfront communication to candidates to highlight all steps of the process
  • Keeping the peer interview groups the same for each position, to make it as fair as possible
  • Have in-house PX leaders play “devil’s advocate” during the peer interview huddle, to challenge biases

Thanks for tagging along with us in the journey! We hope that by sharing our work — including our successes and missteps — that we can be a guiding force to other companies and leaders who share our vision to make our solar community more diverse, equitable, and resilient.

Krysta Riggle is the Strategy Manager in People Experience for BayWa r.e. Solar Systems (USA). She is responsible for creating a thriving work environment for our team members across the country.
Ira-Sofia Giovanetti is the People Experience Program Manager for BayWa r.e. Solar Systems (USA). She is responsible for BayWa’s PX related Programs and Initiatives and a protector of the corporate culture.
BayWa r.e. Solar Systems LLC supplies solar installers in the United States with best-in-class components, business planning advice, and a community of experts. Learn more at www.solar-distribution.com, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter, subscribe to our podcasts and YouTube, and bookmark our COVID-19 resource page. Part of the BayWa r.e. global family of renewable energy companies.