‘When pursuing your career goals, seek companies that align with your values’

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Early in my career, like many women, I doubted my potential for success in a technical sector such as solar. A supportive mentor helped me develop a credible approach, boosting my confidence — upon reflection, this was crucial.

They encouraged me to create a strong value proposition and consider my contributions to the sector. To a certain extent, I found myself diving into niche talent delivery in pioneering markets, often tackling first-of-a-kind projects. Thinking on my feet and delivering solutions became the norm, an experience I recommend to anyone seeking growth.

The industry has recognized the importance of promoting diversity within its workforce, emphasized by a persistent shortage of skills and demand in recent years. At the entry level, ESG is increasingly valued by applicants, heavily influencing their career choices. This presents an opportunity for the industry to leverage its mission.

However, achieving gender balance in leadership and technical roles remains a challenge. IRENA (2019) highlights global gender disparities across senior positions, highlighting the potential to address traditional practices inherited from the conventional energy sector.

The persistent underrepresentation of women in leadership and technical roles remains a significant challenge for solar organizations. According to a recent report by PwC, only 16% of board positions in energy companies across the UK are occupied by women.

However, within these challenges, opportunities present. The growing skills gap across the market has increased the demand for diverse talent, leading to a revaluation of outdated models. Female professionals should take a proactive approach by asking questions, taking calculated risks, and building self-confidence. Instead of solely focusing on obtaining qualifications, it is essential to cultivate relationships and increase visibility within the industry.

The primary issue for talent acquisition is the relatively low number of women pursuing careers in this sector — something we clearly need to address. This is compounded by the underrepresentation of women in recruitment processes, complicating efforts to showcase inclusivity and address unconscious biases.

Women may encounter barriers in accessing opportunities due to differences in academic backgrounds and career paths, particularly early in their careers. Balancing caregiving responsibilities often hampers women's career advancement, alongside preconceptions and self-doubt.

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As companies explore reports and studies on these matters, a question arises: Are organizations prepared to address these challenges, embrace change, and adopt more flexible models and policies that are inclusive for everyone?

If you are a young professional entering the industry, maintain a positive mindset and avoid overly criticizing or doubting your abilities. Embrace curiosity, take calculated risks, and nurture confidence in your skills. When pursuing your career goals, seek companies that align with your values and offer growth opportunities. Pursue roles that challenge you and provide avenues for advancement.

Additionally, focus on building relationships and increasing your visibility in the industry. Dedicate time to networking and staying informed about market trends. Many exceptional women are willing to mentor and provide references. Let's leverage these valuable resources to propel our professional journeys forward. Together, we can achieve remarkable growth and success.

Zoraida Bejarano is the Head of Talent at NextEnergy Group, a leader at the forefront of Human Resources within the renewable sector. With over a decade of experience shaping hiring strategies, Zoraida has spearheaded initiatives to make NextEnergy a first-choice career destination and has driven internal projects to deliver meaningful career progress for NextEnergy's staff. Prior to joining NextEnergy Group, Zoraida collaborated with prominent renewable energy companies across Europe, MENA, and LATAM, designing high-level recruitment campaigns that ultimately contributed to the growth of the talent base in the industry.

Interested in joining Zoraida Bejarano and other women industry leaders and experts at Women in Solar Europe? Find out more: www.wiseu.network

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.

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