Quarterly Report: Leyline Addressing Racism (Q3 2020)
In the crucible summer of 2020, Leyline’s employees made a collective commitment to anti-racism and social equity, and pledged to hold ourselves and our company accountable for making real change, particularly in the renewable energy industry where Black and Brown people are underrepresented. We are encouraging our industry colleagues and partners to do the same. Leyline issued its Statement on Equity on July 1, 2020, and formed the Leyline Addressing Racism Working Group to organize our shared work.
Leyline will report each quarterly on the progress we’ve made toward the goals that we have adopted. As part of that quarterly report, we will also include key metrics on environmental impact, equitable corporate governance, and social change.
This post illuminates the thought and action behind the quarterly report data. We think of these efforts as falling into four main, though overlapping, areas:
- COMMITMENT: Plugging into and giving dimension and understanding to our antiracism efforts
- In addition to publishing Leyline’s Statement on Equity, our public commitment to the shared work of dismantling racism and building equity and diversity in our industry, we further committed to reporting publicly on the progress of our anti-racism work each quarter. The linked report above and this post are our first deliverables on that commitment.
- We formed Leyline Addressing Racism, a working group that meets weekly to strategize, create meaningful action items, and both support and hold each other accountable for progress
- We created a Slack (internal communications app) channel for Leyline Addressing Racism to offer employees a space for suggestions, discussion, and avenues of action for our antiracism and equity efforts in our culture generally and in renewable energy specifically. The channel is used to share and discuss articles, ideas, lectures, books, updates, and other resources that help inform and inspire our own education about structural racism and help the company to achieve our goals.
- We started populating a shared media/listening library to reinforce the Slack channel and give employees further access to free resources to learn about systemic racism, antiracism strategies and equity broadly and in energy specifically.
- We also asked each host of a regularly scheduled internal meeting to provide a moment for colleagues to volunteer a highlight of an antiracism learning, inspiration, or experience from the past week. These moments help build a culture of awareness and accountability: if there’s silence in these moments, that tells us we need to alter our approach to revive anti-racism as top of mind for everyone in the company.
- Identified and began tracking and reporting on anti-racism and other equity and environmental impact goals under Environmental-Social-Governance (ESG) principles
- EDUCATION: Introducing renewable energy at several critical points along the education pathway
- We define our first key strategy as skill-sharing at several touch points along the education pathway (high school, undergraduate, professional school and post-professional networks, particularly with institutions that serve communities of color) to give students and professionals of color more familiarity with renewable energy as a career path with a view to inspire and welcome more Black and Brown professionals into the field
- Created a “Renewable Energy 101” slide deck as an introduction to the field, with extra slides customized to different audiences and academic subjects
- Made contact with seven high schools, colleges, universities and one law school, most of them HBCUs or with majority-Black and Brown populations, to offer presentations on various aspects of our work
- Presented at:
- NC A&T career fair (overview of Leyline and each team, in connection with our internship postings discussed below)
- Meredith College career fair (overview of Leyline and each team, in connection with our internship postings discussed below)
- NC Central Law School – Renewable Energy 101 (from a lawyer’s point of view)
- NC Central Law School – A Day in the Life of a Transactional Lawyer (panel coordinated by Leyline staff lawyer with three senior attorneys of color in various fields of transactional law)
- EMPLOYMENT: Refining Leyline’s hiring process to invite and include more diverse candidates
- Created Renewable Energy Externship at Leyline (REEAL) program, a 27-week rotational intensive ex/internship and posted job description at HBCUs
- Created Environmental-Social-Governance internship, which will support data gathering and reporting on these impact areas for Leyline, and posted at HBCUs
- Revised our job description template to add more welcoming, inclusive language and guide Leyline in how to talk about our work to a wider audience
- Implemented the new job description template to create REEAL and ESG internship postings
- Engaged in frank, robust conversations about “default perceptions” in hiring and ways to expand our view of who is a good “fit” at Leyline
- Identified and started building relationships with career centers at local colleges and universities that are historically diverse, with a particular focus on HBCU’s in North Carolina and the Southeast
- We are continuing to build these relationships so that we can send job postings, attend career fairs, and host renewable energy educational events for students
- Began research on best practices for diverse and inclusive hiring policy
- FINANCE: Using Leyline’s capital and personal resources to increase access to solar energy for lower-income communities, particularly lower-income communities of color
- Defined Leyline’s best role as both development support and financing for projects in low-income communities
- Identified significant solar equipment available for a pilot project
- Reached out for conversations with others active on the issue of equitable access to solar, including Solstice USA, Self-Help, and Resonant Energy
- Brainstormed a seamless product for manufactured housing community cooperatives to support them in developing, constructing, and financing community solar (very early stages)
We are proud of the progress we have made thus far, but recognize this is only the beginning of a very long journey toward racial equity for our team, our company, and our industry. If you’d like to learn more about our work, please contact Rebecca Chilton or Erica Reidy, members of the Leyline Addressing Racism Working Group.