Interview with SunCast: Advice for Women & the Clean Energy Industry feat. Catherine McLean, CEO of Dylan Green

SunCast Interviews Catherine: Advice for Women & the Clean Energy Industry

Catherine McLean was interviewed at RE+ by Nico Johnson, CEO of SunCast about advice for helping more women enter into and thrive within the clean energy industry.


Nico Johnson: Katherine McLean is a Jedi Workforce Specialist and her placement firm Dylan Green has opted to only focus on DEI recruitment. So she spends a lot of time working through difficult hiring situations and has a very specific perspective on whether or not we do in fact, have a shortage on talent. In today’s conversation with Catherine, we talk about how hybrid versus remote versus in office options actually affect hiring, and how this one decision has a much greater impact on women. And there’s a big reason that relocation has become a hot button. And lastly, you get more helpful advice for corporates and candidates alike. Hey, before you get too comfortable, if this resonates with you, please gently give that like button down there a wallop and drop a comment below about whether or not you actually prefer in office, at home, or hybrid workplace. Me. I’m never going back to an office. I mean, of course, beyond this little box that is

Alright, I’m back and we’re on the show floor walking around but looking for friends that run into longtime friend and DEI justice warrior, she’s been one of the best recruiters in the industry. Miss Catherine McLean. Good to see you!

Catherine: Friends in low places.

Nico: That’s because she lives in DC, y’all. So the prevailing conversation I’ve heard a lot that I think you probably have some perspective on is that we have this massive workforce development shortage and even just workforce shortage. You and I talked about your perspective on what you think that corporates are missing in this dialogue like what’s making this hard right now?

Catherine: I think what it is, is we’re all looking for specific experience. So not only are we looking for specific skills and attributes, but we’re also looking for people to come from specific industries, right? So we want a solar developer to come from my solar development shop. And I think the challenge that companies are having is there’s a perceived labor shortage and that is true if we’re gonna only be looking for like for like. But there’s so many people who want to come into this industry in all different levels of an org. So junior people, middle career changers, more senior people, etc. So just being open to where people are coming from, I think would help a lot.

Nico: Yeah. We were just chatting with our buddy Mike from New Colombia. And it turns out that the whole you know, return to the office versus hybrid work situation actually complicates deals as well. Can you talk a bit about both from the candidate side, the desire to work from where they are, and from the corporate side, the desire for folks to be in a specific location and how that’s impacting your work.

Catherine: It is impacting my work quite a bit. It is the bane of my existence of 2023. There is a real line in the sand like companies are our hybrid and it’s three days a week and they are not moving on that they feel like they’re being flexible, but getting two days a week from home. But hybrid is not remote, right? So the problem that you have, especially for what I do, which is more diversity and replacing a lot of women, is that we women have actually excelled tremendously during COVID because of the remote a bit aspects of the job. And so it’s allowed them to sort of build their careers and continue to look after the household which a lot of them, not all of them, do. So I think the big issue that I’ve have, I shared with a lot of my clients have had, is this sort of relocation, right? So a person may be somewhere in Texas, that’s a very reasonable place to live and then may be asked to relocate to one of the major cities there. And so they’re willing to do that, but then they’re going to need a lot more money to do that. Right. So they’re going to need relocation, they’re going to need a higher base, there’s going to have to be a justification for why they should leave their remote, more cost effective place to relocate. And so I think what you’re having, you’re just seeing a lot of candidates sort of struggle with this and a lot of companies not really want to have to pay to get these people to come in.

Nico: One last question for you because this is your specialty in particular, I know that as I mentioned at the top you specialize on helping corporate entities find diverse candidates and diversity in all aspects, but particularly focusing on women in the workplace. What have you found has been the most helpful advice or education that you give to either corporates and or your candidate clients. That is particularly for folks coming not in the work because I say we create our own inflation in the industry, right because we only hire people who’ve been in solar before, right? So I know that you focus on helping bring people in from outside. I can hear what and people and people reject it, which we got a problem with that corporates, but what do you what have you seen has been like a lever that helps someone coming from outside industry to really understand how to take those first steps into getting a job in the sector.

Catherine: Well, I think there are organizations that are helping with this like climate, climate bass, they have quite a good a lot of sort of networking events and like employers like career fairs that they’re doing to really encourage people who aren’t in the industry to to get in the industry and speak with employers who would be open to them being in the industry. I’m making sure that you’re clear on your LinkedIn profile that you’re interested in the industry. If you’re currently in a job and you don’t want your employer to know that you’re looking to switch industries. There’s ways to be subtle about it on your profile. A lot of it is algorithms so making sure that you have some keywords in there that would make a recruiter.. Some of those keywords: Cleaner Energy, climate change sustainability, solar, like you could just say you’re passionate about it.

Nico: It’s gonna happen, we need a code word for recruitment…

Catherine: Keep changing it every quarter. No, I think if companies are going to just going back to the remote thing, I think if companies are going to really say you have to be in the office and I can respect that, don’t get me wrong, I can respect that. I just think they’re going to need to be more open on experience and higher on skills and attributes. And again if there, if you find somebody at 75% of what you’re looking for, it becomes quote unquote, easier to do that 25% training because they’re going to be in the office. Right? So they’re in that location. I got back to all remote though.

Nico: All remote! All remote, for the win. Catherine McLean is the founder and CEO of Dylan Green, a recruitment firm in the industry focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in particular helping get more women into the workforce. Love the work, you’re doing excellent clients like Lightsource bp, trust her and you should too. We’ll put the link to her website down below so you can go check it out, and we’ll link you to LinkedIn as well.