Chief Legal & Sustainability Officer
Young women today follow in the footsteps of many female leaders in the solar industry. Think of Dr. Maria Telkes, the first person to develop a solar powered heating system for homes, or Sarah Kurtz who has made significant advancements in solar cell efficiency. We find these influential figures scattered across the history of the industry, and more are coming up through classrooms and university campuses. At Maxeon, we are focused on doing our part by training and developing the careers of women at our locations around the world and we recognize how our female employees’ achievements are critical to the success of our company.
Indeed, our Fab 4 facility in The Philippines, which makes the world’s most efficient commercially-produced solar cells, is run by Pauline Palma having recently been promoted, who began her engineering career at Maxeon in 2004, and I look forward to seeing the advances she will make.
In Supply Chain, which is a function that is traditionally male-dominated, Valda Tsang is passionate about creating diverse teams that drive creative, user-centric solutions to support Maxeon’s growth. Valda has been intentional with shaping an inclusive team by recruiting diverse hires in gender, age, experience and culture, combining them with the existing team to drive transformation.
Our Marketing efforts are led by Valentina Maggiore, who joined the company in 2011 covering different local and global roles until she became Vice President. Her team includes individuals rich in differences regarding age, nationality, ethnicity, personal history, professional background, ability, skills, gender. And she didn’t compromise in empowering her people with the strong belief that crafting a motivated and diverse team can help us as an organization discover innovative methods to improve operations and reach corporate goals as well as expand our existing skill sets.
On this International Women’s Day themed ‘Embrace Equity’, it’s an important moment to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements, while thinking a little deeper about how an equitable world can bring lasting change to all within the industry, and those who aspire to be in our industry. The words equity and equality are often used interchangeably, but they are inherently different concepts. The goal of equity – to change systemic and structural barriers that get in the way of people's ability to thrive – is one we can all stand behind.
What does IWD mean to me?
When I joined SunPower in 2010, I was very surprised to find a significantly greater portion of men working within the solar industry than women, which wasn’t intuitive considering I was at a renewable energy company in the Bay Area, California. But the solar industry, like other parts of the energy industry, is heavily comprised of the engineering and construction fields which have historically been underrepresented with women. Every day, I am striving to encourage more women to enter the industry, as working in the solar industry is immensely rewarding and we will be stronger with a more diverse set of voices and perspectives focused on solving climate change.
As Chief Legal Officer and leader of Maxeon’s sustainability team, I am proud to be in an influential position to act as a female role model for those across our business. That’s why for me, International Women’s Day is an important day of reflection and helps us to recognise the significant milestones we have successfully overcome, as well as those we are continuing to reach toward, to achieve a more equitable world.
What does IWD mean to Maxeon?
Maxeon is a purpose-driven organisation where we aim to champion an inclusive environment in which everyone has the opportunity to achieve their full career potential. At Maxeon, we have made a public aspirational goal that by 2030 we will increase our people leaders who identify as female to 37%. We are committed to growing our female talent and last year, we curated career development sessions specifically designed for women in our workplace to support their development plans and increase our diversity in leadership. In addition, we completed a review of our maternity benefits with introductions and enhancements that are equitable and competitive in our locations with our largest employee base. We’re proud that our policies and culture have allowed us to achieve a higher than industry average with near parity for our male to female employee ratio (54% male and 46% female), and where our efforts were recognised as part of the World’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies by Corporate Knights. This ranking was based on several considerations beyond the sphere of clean energy spending, waste and recycling programs and also included human and labor rights and female representation in the executive management team.
We know there is a lot more to do to achieve full gender equality at Maxeon and reach the goal we have set ourselves to increase female leadership to a minimum of 37% by 2030. But it’s not just about representation; to truly embrace equity we need to continually improve the culture from within and provide solid proof-points to women that there are even more pathways to success and career recognition, and foster a system that enables women to thrive.
This is why last year, we launched the internal Women@Maxeon employee resource group, a community of passionate male and female employees committed to attracting, developing, retaining women in the workplace, and ultimately embracing and celebrating diversity and inclusion at Maxeon. On its one-year anniversary I am proud to share that we are growing this community much wider, and we will be establishing local chapters, ensuring appropriate representation and a grassroots approach to drive meaningful change and progress. As part of this, we will be reaching out beyond Maxeon and into the communities where we operate.
#EmbraceEquity I believe is a theme that particularly resonates with Maxeon as a company that aims to support its employees with the resources they need to succeed. Equity is everyone’s business; we are all responsible for creating a more equitable environment.
… and to our employees?
I’d also like to take this opportunity to recognise some of the great contributions of Maxeon employees. Tiffany See, our Chief Human Resources Officer, and her team continue to offer new and exciting initiatives to support talent management, training and development and performance management. It is a credit to her leadership, as a female role model, that we are focused on taking our next steps to gender equity within the business population.
At Maxeon I know we have an opportunity, and an obligation, to make a real difference for our people, our customers and the communities in which we operate by championing an inclusive and equitable environment in which everyone is supported, encouraged and has the opportunity to achieve their full career potential in addition to reaching their other aspirations in life.