In the early summer of 2020, we at BlueWave distilled our response to systemic racism, the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and so many others, and the justice protests into our Anti-Racist Action Plan. Sitting idly by and putting out statements without action was not an option. As a company, we escalated our efforts to take action against the long, horrific history of racism and we recognize our role and the obligation we have to change a system that perpetuates the institutionalization of that injustice. We reaffirmed our commitment to working at the intersection of climate justice, environmental protection and racial equity and recognized that all three are inextricably linked. Most importantly, we committed to the work reflected in our Action Plan. Now, two years on from that commitment, we are sharing what we have learned, done and have yet to do. By holding ourselves publicly accountable we hope to advance anti-racist work in our broader community and we invite our industry colleagues to do the same, and to share their own efforts.
As we highlight this intersectionality, BlueWave also acknowledges the major implications and impacts the recent Supreme Court decisions have on everyone. It is disheartening to see and BlueWave will continue to address the issues thoughtfully and intentionally.
The BlueWave Action Plan starts with anti-racist Work within the walls of the company and radiates out into our communities and our industry.
At the company level, we have long recognized that our current team, including our senior leadership team, does not reflect the racial diversity of our society. We could no longer afford to continue to deprioritize this fact. To change that, we committed to providing enhanced support for retention and career growth within our organization for BIPOC employees (outlined below) and put in the effort to seek out more diverse candidates for all openings, but particularly for senior positions.
BlueWave, having recently been acquired by Axium Infrastructure, is proud to share that our values and commitments are reflected by our new ownership, and our efforts will continue full steam ahead. The Climate Fight is an intersectional issue, and this acquisition will help us pave the way for dual use projects, have an increased impact on the energy transition, more influence over polices that support renewables, and will help us be more innovative in how we address social justice issues with our daily work.
So far, we have succeeded in:
- Examining our hiring processes, pay equity, retention programs, professional training programs, and career trajectories to better recruit outstanding BIPOC candidates and encourage, enable, and reward their success. Specifically, we completed a third-party, intensive market-based compensation review, leveling and restructuring process with the explicit intent of rooting out any racial and/or gender bias in our compensation and titling systems. We have also ramped up efforts to reach wider audiences in our recruiting process and added greater diversity to our team.
- Introducing anti-racist training and transformational resources through our grassroots internal Social Impact Committee, whose membership represents more than a third of our headcount from every level and function of the company, to examine our own unconscious bias. While we recognize that training and transformation will be a lifelong effort for the company and for each of us as individuals, we have so far focused on lively internal discussions, resource-sharing and a steady drumbeat of internal communications putting major events like Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Juneteenth in their full historical context. To institutionalize this informal learning and conversation, BlueWave has contracted with YW Boston focused on justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, talent advisory and training services, for guidance as we build our long-term approach to anti-racism. We have completed our foundational workshops for understanding Implicit Bias and Social Identities and will be making more progress on our action plan as the year continues.
- Recognizing Juneteenth as an annual firm holiday and advocating for making that important day a national day of remembrance, understanding and celebration.
- Providing financial support to Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, American Association of Blacks in Energy and other organizations promoting racial justice.
- In 2020, providing over $13,000 on behalf of 86 employees in donations directed by our internal teams to organizations that help support and uplift BIPOC, low-income, and marginalized communities:
- The Impact Microfinance Fund
- Project Hope
- The Greater Boston Food Bank
- The American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE)
- Black Farmer Fund
- Louis D. Brown Peace Institute
- Community Servings
- Environmental Voter Project
- Lend a Hand Society
- The Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective
- Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust
- Ladles of Love SA
- In 2021, providing $8,700 on behalf of 53 employees after completing a spinout of our community solar services business, benefitting the following organizations:
- Cradles to Crayons
- Lutheran Social Services National Capital Area
- Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness
- National Family Farm Coalition
- Northeast Sustainable Energy Association
- Rosie's Place
- Stand With Me
- The Big Food Drive
- The Greater Boston Food Bank
- Offering employee donation matching.
Among the goals we identified in June 2020, we have yet to establish an Anti-Racism Advisory Board to help center and uplift internal colleagues of color, guide us as we progress, and to hold us accountable for change. This board will provide a formal venue for our BIPOC BlueWavers to speak candidly and directly to leadership. With the help of the YW Boston we look forward to creating this important body in 2022.
Additionally, we will be offering more financial support to organizations like Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, Fair Fight, and American Association of Blacks in Energy.
As a B Corporation that will re-certify next year, we are currently forming a task force of employees from different backgrounds and industry expertise that will facilitate our company’s progress forward. Different perspectives will allow us to come together and brainstorm how we can be better as a company. This year, we will be looking to further our efforts by participating in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) campaign set by B Lab and the United Nations. Our campaign at BlueWave will address the 17 Sustainable Development Goals over 17 weeks, shining a spotlight on each goal every week. This will give every one of BlueWave’s employees time to understand the goals and what our company can and should be responsible for, as well as how the goals look at a global scale.
By its very nature, our work in clean energy and community solar offers opportunities to address the intersection of racial and environmental justice. We have acted on those opportunities by:
- Continuing to provide at least 3 days of PTO a year for employees to volunteer in a community we serve, with guidance for how and where these efforts can best support racial and economic justice. In 2020 our team volunteered hundreds of hours with environmental justice, voting rights, food security and other organizations, many of which address racial justice issues. In 2021 over 70% of the company participated in company volunteer efforts centering around food security and cleaning up our waters. In 2022 we are striving for 100% participation and doubling our volunteer efforts by coordinating two companywide volunteer days, in addition to the team and individual volunteering opportunities.
- Advocating for our project investors and policymakers to support innovative efforts designed to make solar energy accessible and affordable for low-income residents and environmental justice communities. While our efforts on this front are ongoing, we are encouraged that regulators in Massachusetts and New York have responded positively to calls from BlueWave and our industry colleagues to prioritize community solar access for these communities. More states are coming up the curve and BlueWave will continue to push for economic and environmental justice.
- Building outreach to indigenous communities into our standard project development process. As a developer, we understand that our projects often take place on stolen land with deep cultural history that extends far beyond the current occupants. We have begun the process of establishing working relationships with indigenous communities to understand and incorporate their perspective in the development process.
We also committed to tracking our supply chain to directly support BIPOC-owned businesses – including everyone from those who provide our lunch supplies, employee engagement incentives, and gifts to external partners to the contractors who build our projects to those who manufacture our solar panels and energy storage equipment. While we have prioritized BIPOC vendors for some of our basic business services, we are now turning focus to our highest-value contracts and have set goals to start the process of incorporating JEDI considerations into our procurement of the services and materials used in our development projects.
Beyond the work we committed to in our original Action Plan, members of our team waswere heavily engaged in the 2020 election cycle supporting anti-racist causes while also using our platform to encourage greater civic engagement. Our initiatives included:
- Holding an internal information session with MassVOTE Executive Director Cheryl Clyburn Crawford to engage with voting rights issues and educate BlueWavers on their local ballots including making an associated company donation to MassVOTE
- Organizing phone banking, letter writing, and literature drops supporting racial and climate justice
- Holding an internal session about the importance of voting and the census, educating our team on social and political context
- Using our platform, from community solar customer bills and social media outlets, to encourage our thousands of customers and stakeholders to exercise their right to vote
We have been recognized in the solar industry for publication of our Action Plan and encourage our industry colleagues’ commitment to publicly addressing systemic racism in their own businesses. As members of the Northeast Clean Energy Council, we have also been engaged in the organization’s push for a more diverse clean energy workforce.
In parallel to furthering NECEC’s action plan, we have created an internal working group focused on mentorship and fellowship for BIPOC high school students, college students and working professionals. The objective of this group is to better prepare students for successful college and career paths and to improve access to clean energy opportunities. Our goal is to partner with and financially support local community organizations that enable and provide mentoring, job creation and professional training while expanding and diversifying the future talent pool for both BlueWave and the clean energy industry. So far, we have succeeded in:
- Becoming one of the first clean energy companies to work with the following local organizations and schools:
- The American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) - Greater Boston Chapter, whose mission is to provide direct input into the deliberations and developments of energy policies, regulations, emerging technologies, and environmental issues and help build the pipeline of Blacks and other underrepresented minorities to enter the energy industry
- Enroot, whose mission is to work with immigrant students to offer out-of-school experiences, tutoring, and leadership development
- Bottom Line, whose mission is to help first-generation students from low-income backgrounds get into college, graduate, and go far in life
- JVS Boston, whose mission is to advise and train immigrants into the US with job seeking skills, language skills, and help with job placement
- Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), whose mission is to provide work experience and career exploration for high school students from Boston Public Schools. PIC brings together employers, educators, and workforce organizations to help guide the agenda for education and workforce preparation
- Boston Green Academy, whose mission is to welcome diverse students of all abilities, and educate and empower them to succeed in college and career, and prepare them to lead in the sustainability of our community and world
- Partnering with AABE, Boston PIC, and Boston Green Academy long-term to support internship programs and clean energy career awareness
- Two BlueWave teams participated in the Boston PIC Summer Internship Program during Summer 2021 with high school students from Boston Public Schools. This program is a yearly program and two teams are participating again during Summer 2022
- As a part of our clean energy career awareness actions, BlueWavers Joyce Joseph and Jackie Firsty created a video tour of our landfill solar farm project in Chelmsford, MA with Chapter President of Greater Boston AABE Shalaya Morissette (Link to video)
- BlueWave is proud to have co-funded a 2021 Summer Fellowship with Northeastern Energy Justice and Biden Administration Deputy Director for Energy Justice Professor Shalanda Baker along with ReVision Energy, New England Women in Energy and the Environment (NEWIEE) and the AABE Greater Boston Chapter.
- BlueWave participated in Enroot’s internship program during Spring 2021 with immigrant high school students from the Cambridge and Somerville area.
- BlueWave volunteers reviewed resumes to help first-generation college seniors finalize their resumes and apply for jobs with Bottom Line
- BlueWave continues to expand our co-op program to be more inclusive of students from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups through career fairs and networking events. BlueWave participated in UMass Boston’s Internship Expo in November 2021 and Boston University’s Professional Networking Fair in March 2022
- BlueWave volunteers discussed clean energy careers and gave interactive lessons for a group of middle school students as part of STEM Week with Boston PIC
- BlueWave volunteers held a virtual information session for full time job seekers from diverse working backgrounds with MassHire Downtown Boston Career Center, in partnership with solar installers ACE Solar and RevoluSun
- BlueWave volunteers from several teams held a virtual job shadow day in March 2021 with BPS students and Boston PIC
- BlueWave received the 2021 Excellence in Clean Energy Leadership award during the 1st AABE Greater Boston Excellence in Energy award ceremony. This award recognizes an organization that showcases exceptional work in the acceleration of the transition to a clean energy future in underrepresented and underserved communities. Additionally, as an awardee, we have demonstrated a long-term commitment to providing equitable access to clean energy.
Accountability is justice and while we are gratified by the engagement across our team, community and industry in the Work of anti-racism so far, we understand that the true test of our commitment is in our long-term results and cultural change. As we look towards our third year executing our Action Plan, BlueWave is committed to formalizing new policies, procedures, and cultural norms with the help of YW Boston. Our work doesn’t end in twenty-four months, but will continue in perpetuity as it becomes further etched into the core of our company. To that end, we look forward to checking in and holding ourselves publicly accountable on a regular basis. We also call upon others in our industry to join us in continuing to improve on their own efforts in this sphere so we can work together to exact change in our shared industry and beyond.