Quarterly Report: Leyline Addressing Racism (Q4 2021)
In the crucible summer of 2020, Leyline Renewable Capital’s (LRC) employees made a collective commitment to anti-racism and social equity. We pledged to hold ourselves and our company accountable for making real change, particularly in the renewable energy industry, where Black and Brown people are dramatically underrepresented. Leyline issued its Statement on Equity on July 1, 2020, and formed the Leyline Addressing Racism Working Group (“LAR”) to organize our shared work.
Part of our public pledge is to report each quarter on the progress we made toward our goals, as well as our key metrics on environmental impact, equitable corporate governance, and social change. Beginning March 2022, we will temporarily pause blog posts and focus our attention to the Equity and Environment Reports to update and report on quarterly LAR initiatives.
Our most recent Equity and Environment Report (Q4 ’21) can be found here. The collection of our reports can be found on the LRC Impact page here.
We are a learn-as-you-go group that strives to listen attentively to our partners and to take those learnings back and improve our action plan in real time. This post illuminates the thought and action behind the data shown in the recent Equity and Environment Report. Our commitment to continuous improvement can be seen in our three main overlapping focus areas this past quarter: education, employment, and finance/community partnerships. As a reminder, we define these focus areas as:
- Education: Introducing renewable energy at several critical points along the education pathway.
- Employment: Refining Leyline’s hiring and employment processes to invite, include, and retain more diverse candidates.
- Finance and Community Partnerships: Using Leyline’s capital and personal resources to increase access to solar energy for lower-income communities, particularly lower-income communities of color.
Our Theme This Quarter: Celebrating Change
This year, LAR celebrated its first anniversary! Throughout the year, we listened, and we evolved. A lot of change can come in a year – the LAR team grew both within ourselves and together to understand our rhythms and strengths. This quarter, we focused on leaning in and listening to our members and what inspires and drives them. As a team, we can reflect on some major accomplishments this quarter, upholding our COMMITMENT to listen and learn, reflect, and speak out through it all.
Toward the end of 2021, Leyline held our first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Foundation’s training. Leyline continued its partnership with North Carolina local organization AYA Consulting to drive internal development of a company-wide strategic justice, equity, diversity, inclusion (JEDI) plan, and facilitate this DEI learning series. This partnership is an investment in our team members and extends to the partners and developers we work with every day and was a vital learning experience for our team. As clean energy and equity advocates, we understand that investments like this are critical to our work. As we move through 2022, we will continue a learning series led by Aya Consulting to continue this important work.
Lastly, in support of fostering the development of Leyline’s internal diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, we created the Leyline “JEDI manager” role. The new JEDI manager will support LAR by running weekly meetings, managing quarterly LAR reporting, and acting as our external-facing representative. We are excited to bring this individual on board and look forward to the marked change they will facilitate.
In the fourth quarter, we continued to advance our commitment to EDUCATION. In the past, LAR primarily worked with university students, whether it be providing internships, attending job fairs, or sitting on panels. We continued those efforts this quarter with our attendance at Norfolk State University’s career fair.
In addition, we shifted our focus from the university level to high school students. LAR visited Southern High School to present on solar panels along with Ed Witkin, a veteran solar installer working at Carrboro Solar Works. The school has a STEM-focused magnet program with an emphasis on sustainability, with roughly 90 percent of the student population being Black or Hispanic. The LAR team discussed various career pathways in sustainable energy, the work Leyline does, and the significance of our work. We conducted demos showcasing the science of solar panels. Following this inaugural visit, we hope to partner with other high schools in the area for additional EDUCATION engagement opportunities.
We continue to develop a fellowship program in conjunction with North Carolina Central University. As we closed out 2021, we successfully made our final first pitch for initial funding for this program. The program is focused on creating opportunities for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) populations to break into the renewable and sustainability industries. Upon the acceptance of this pitch, a new role will be created for LAR member Grace Carter, who will be dedicated to the planning and development of the program this year. We are looking forward to the work she will do and to hear more as the program evolves.
Leyline’s employment efforts this quarter revolved around reflection, action, and change facilitation. After kicking the quarter off with the two-day DEI Foundations workshop with Aya Consulting, we gathered to shared ideas for impactful changes for Leyline in the next year.
LAR representatives shared these ideas and recommendations at Leyline’s annual review on how to better include LAR and equity efforts into the company’s larger work. We are excited to continue our partnership with Aya Consulting and use our LAR work to impact Leyline’s strategic planning for 2022.
A significant focus of our work this quarter was ensuring Leyline team members prioritized their mental health as we wrapped up a busy 2021. Our biggest EMPLOYMENT accomplishment this quarter was holding space and taking the time to redesign our internal committee structure to catalyze better alignment and focus our efforts more intentionally. Listening to employee feedback resulted in the creation of five new groups, which meet on a bi-weekly basis, to address engagement and create space for community action. Our next reporting structure will likely adapt according to these new categories. Our groups are as follows:
- Educational Partnerships Committee
- Non-Educational/Community Partnerships Committee
- Policy & Procedure Committee
- Internal Growth & Development Committee
- Community and Government Action Committee
Aligning employees within their passion area will remain a steady pillar of our success. This redesign excited the LAR team and breathed new life into our initiatives. This year, a LAR strategic planning session will take place to further align and support our growing community, ensuring our team members are healthy and upheld by the structure we create. Our goal is to support action as well as employee community as we do this good work.
Finance and COMMUNITY Partnerships
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP remains a key tenant for our organization. This quarter, we conducted an internal fundraiser working with the Episcopal Farm Worker Ministry and donated 50 Christmas boxes to 50 families to send the Haitian community in Mt. Olive, N.C. We’re grateful to the engaged Leyline team for its hard work on this initiative. Thank you again to all the Leyline employees who made this event possible!
We continued our partnerships with BlackOak Collective and Renewables Forward, and began a relationship with the Durham chapter of Habitat for Humanity. In 2022, we hope to welcome our JEDI manager, who will be tasked with securing and growing additional FINANCE AND COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS.
Finally, we fully incorporated JEDI-specific mapping layers into our technical underwriting process. Using the mapping tool Transect, the Leyline team can assess the impact each project may have on the local neighborhood and environment. This includes an assessment of local air quality, water-stressed regions, and crime rates to build a stronger picture of how each project will impact its community.
These quarterly snapshots provide a glimpse Leyline’s recent work, giving us an opportunity to account for our actions and move forward. In summary, we strive to do our best in every effort and hope to continually share our progress – progress that includes new internal structures, committees, focus, and reporting.
Moving forward, our strategic planning session will kick LAR into high gear – our titles and committees may change, but we know LAR is dedicated to learning each day. This quarter, we CELEBRATE CHANGE and are excited to see what shifts 2022 brings!
While this will be our last LAR blog for now, our quarterly reporting will continue via our Equity and Environment Reports, which can be found on our Impact Page here. If you’d like to learn more about our work, please contact us, and don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly newsletter.