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CS Energy, a leading integrated energy firm that designs and builds optimized projects in the solar, storage, and emerging energy industries, has launched an employee-led effort to support, as well as increase the number of women on its team and within the broader renewable energy industry.
In spite of the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, a group of female employees, with the support of executive management, launched CS Energy's Women in Renewable Energy (CS Energy WiRE) program in the spring of 2020. CS Energy WiRE aims to engage the female employees at CS Energy and provide them with the tools needed to grow and advance through a network of support and mentoring. The group is designed for all female employees across the various departments to collaborate and grow both professionally and personally.
"Despite the pandemic, the spark was there," said Dawn Robinson, Director of Human Resources and Communications and founding member of CS Energy WiRE. "CS Energy is making a big difference with a top-down approach embracing and encouraging diversity within the company. Our leadership wasted no time in providing the resources needed to launch the group."
The number of women employed in STEM fields is low, and is especially low in renewable energy. "18 percent of CS Energy's workforce are women, including 20 percent in our executive team. Our goal is to keep improving participation through this initiative," said Janani Ramkumar, Director of Pre-construction and founding member of CS Energy WiRE.
CS Energy WiRE plans to increase CS Energy's ranks of female employees by 10 percent over the next year. The path to achieve that goal involves increasing more female participation in career fairs, developing mentorships, and encouraging network outside the company walls. The group has established a leadership team comprised of employees from a variety of departments and experience levels. That team has led the group through internal networking events and an external Town Hall, where female CS Energy leadership joined forces with the National Girls Collaborative Project to reach women and encourage them to pursue careers in sustainability, engineering, and renewable energy.
CS Energy has already been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in New Jersey, in part because the company provides paid time off for volunteer work, allows flexible work schedules, and offers parental leave for both men and women. These benefits, which are not yet universal in the construction industry, are often called for by women in the workforce.
"There is so much opportunity for women to thrive in the exciting fields of renewable energy, engineering, and construction," said Diana Palazzi Mery, Executive Vice President of Accounting & Finance for CS Energy. "We're working to create a program that we hope will be a powerful tool to advance their success." Palazzi Mery is the first woman on the company's executive leadership team, and one of CS Energy WiRE's founding members.