Solar Company Shines Light on Gender Pay Parity 

Women in the United States are, on average, paid just 80 cents on the dollar of what men make. National residential solar and storage company Sunrun Inc., though, is leading the industry toward a more equitable future. Earlier this summer, Sunrun announced that it had achieved 100 percent gender pay parity for employees performing similar work in similar locations across the United States. In conversation with Chad Herring, Vice President of Talent at Sunrun, NCSEA learned more about their decision to prioritize pay parity and the steps they took to achieve this goal.

In 2016, Sunrun leadership collectively decided to make gender pay parity a priority issue within the company and began taking steps toward that end. One of the first steps in the process was to voluntarily stop asking candidates for any job throughout the company for their current salary and salary history. Herring noted that questions about salary history on applications for employment are proven to perpetuate pay disparities. Requiring an answer to questions about current and prior salaries to determine compensation can force women and minorities to carry lower earnings and pay discrimination with them throughout their career.

Herring said that publicly stating that they were prioritizing gender pay parity was important in holding themselves accountable. They publicly committed to the White House Equal Pay Pledge in 2016, and contracted with an outside law firm to conduct a statistical analysis of what men and women in the company are paid in certain positions. He encouraged other organizations looking to achieve gender parity to consider reaching out to law firms in their area, because having an objective third party perform the statistical analysis is important. Companies working with a tight budget shouldn’t be discouraged by this: some of these firms may do this work at a discounted rate because pay parity is important to them as well.

Since signing up for the Equal Pay Pledge in 2016, Sunrun has run the statistical analysis every year and are happy to be able to announce that they have achieved 100 percent pay parity, becoming the first national solar company to do so.

Sunrun understands that the work is just beginning—they will need to continue to perform a statistical analysis each year moving forward to ensure that they are identifying issues as they arise and as the company grows. However, Herring said that the response to this project has been overwhelmingly positive and that there is a sense of pride among staff that a company so young is willing to publicly commit and hold themselves accountable.

NCSEA is proud to have members like Sunrun, who are actively demonstrating their commitment to equity, diversity and inclusiveness. Any degree of progress is cause for celebration, but the industry as a whole has a long way to go. We are therefore encouraged that many of the steps Sunrun took can be replicated by companies of any size or budget.

Herring is eager to get to a point where 100 percent gender pay parity is the norm, and he hopes Sunrun will help us get there. In the meantime, Herring had some advice for solar companies looking into making the change to 100 percent gender parity: consider that half of your customers, and those deciding whether to go solar, are women. You must care about fair and equitable treatment of women otherwise you wouldn’t be caring about half your customer base, which is very bad business.

Thank you, Sunrun, for leading the way.

Does your company have an equity, diversity, and inclusiveness story to tell? We want to hear from you! E-mail Jordan Jones at jordan@energync.org, and learn more about NCSEA’s Inclusiveness Initiative on our website.

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