Giving Compass' Take:

• Dan Gearino, writing for InsideClimate News, discusses the racial inequities present in the clean energy industry and compiles examples of action steps to address these inequalities. 

• How can you help address racial disparities in clean energy use? 

• Read why social innovation alone can't solve racial inequality.

In this moment of reckoning and reflection about racial inequity in our country, it's time to be forthright about the inequalities in the rapidly expanding business of clean energy.

This industry is providing economic opportunities, but the benefits are not distributed fairly across races and income levels. Predominantly white and affluent communities are getting most of the jobs in the solar industry, and also most of the clean air and financial benefits of having solar on their homes.

"Today the solar industry has to reckon with the fact that we do have an industry that is trying to play within a system that is built on structural racism and we have to think more holistically about how to change that system," said Melanie Santiago-Mosier, managing director of the access and equity program for Vote Solar, who described the industry's problem of "employment and deployment."

Some background: In 2019, the solar industry's workforce was 7.7 percent "black or African American," according to the Solar Foundation, while black workers represent 13 percent of the U.S. labor force.

At the same time, residents of neighborhoods with black or Hispanic majorities are much less likely to have rooftop solar than residents in white neighborhoods, even after accounting for differences in income and home ownership rates, according to a paper published last year in the journal Nature Sustainability.

Among the reasons for this disparity in rooftop solar use may be that solar companies are marketing their services less in black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

It doesn't take much of a leap to see a connection between underrepresentation in the solar work force and the lower use of solar in some neighborhoods. Whole communities are much less likely to have job contacts in the industry, and are also less likely to know someone who has rooftop solar and can talk about its benefits.

Read the full article about racial inequity in clean energy industry by Dan Gearino at InsideClimate News.