Interview with Elizabeth Weir, COO at Sol Systems
Watch the latest videos from Dylan Green with Elizabeth Weir, COO at Sol Systems discussing how their business and team have adapted and creatively communicated their core focus during the pandemic.
Part 5 - Ann and HR leadership
Catherine: What piece of advice would you give to a woman that was considering joining the solar industry?
Elizabeth: I would say, if you love it do it and don’t let anyone stop you. But, above all, I think what’s very important is that we trust ourselves. I think that we get subliminal messages very often that we should hide or be apologetic first. Fundamental aspects of being a woman, such as showing up to work with baby drool on my shoulder or all those things, I think just be unapologetically yourself. And show up for work and be proud. And what I found helpful is knowing when to ask for help because I think that’s really important to know you have a community. No one’s doing this alone, we’re all in this together and we’re all here to build a strong and sustainable future.
Catherine: What roles have you found particularly challenging to try to risk it trying to get a diverse pool of candidates?
Elizabeth: Unfortunately, it’s been the STEM position, engineering. Engineering, we have a very difficult time feeling time filling engineering positions with women. Similarly, there are some positions that require a little going out to the site by yourself, potentially in a very remote area, I think sometimes women tend to shy away from those positions because it’s perceived that you have to be successful there’s a little bit more aggression or the ability to knock on doors and explore is an important part of that. Similarly, the leadership positions are sometimes difficult to fill. I’m the only woman on the executive team at Sol Systems, and we proactively recruit women and we recruit diverse candidates all the time. I think it’s very hard to find folks that identify as female, or women to join an executive team and to really commit to the industry overall.
Catherine: There’s a lot of evidence that remote work helps women climb the career ladder. Do you think that we will see a cultural shift to women in more senior leadership positions?
Elizabeth: I hope so! I do think that having flexibility to work from home is important and so I do hope that giving more flexibility to women will very much so help women climb the corporate ladder. But I do think that the underlying issue is really more that women tend to be the default parents. It’s really just the beginning of a larger – to make sure that women and men have the opportunity to parent and invest in their careers as much as he or she wants on a personal level, not by a default cultural norm.
Elizabeth: Charity Sack is the head of our marketing department and she has her finger on the pulse of our organization and our customer needs. And she’s been able to tap into the reality that we really need to be authentic right now. People are scared. We need to really embrace who we are as humans and so she’s been able to communicate that internally and externally, through a few different segments that she’s led. One is a video that she created for us where our children interviewed our co-workers, and asked about the solar industry. Another was some opportunities, for bring your child to work day, which is every day now, but in particular Charity and Ann together did a really great job of building out a program that really showcases what it’s like to continue to execute on your business objectives, while we’re in this disruptive time.
Part 5 Transcript - Ann and HR leadership
Catherine: One thing I also want to highlight, when you and I spoke, you mentioned Ann Sweitzer as somebody that has really been pivotal in getting you guys up and running during this challenging time. Can you talk a little bit about Ann and what her role has been?
Elizabeth: Yeah! Ann Sweitzer is the head of our HR department. She has been an incredible leader through this transition. She has been able to connect our workforce on a remote basis by developing group yoga classes, virtual meditation classes and mindfulness. She has been communicating across the organization, new policies and tools for working remotely, and she’s also really been advocating internally for mental health concerns because Covid affects so many people and, really, it can be very traumatic, because there is so much change going on. So she’s really been an advocate to make sure that there are resources available for all of our employees. It’s been fantastic and exciting to see her leadership really get the recognition it deserves, in light of this disruption.