Thursday, May 19, 2011

Utility, Telecom companies to boost minority contracting

Major improvements still don't match state's diversity, report finds.
BERKELEY, CALIFORNIACalifornia utility and telecommunications companies have boosted their contracting with firms owned by people of color, women, and disabled veterans, the Greenlining Institute’s latest Supplier Diversity Report Card shows, but contracting still doesn’t match the state’s growing diversity.

The just-released report is based on data reported to the California Public Utilities Commission pursuant to General Order 156, which seeks to strengthen the state’s economy by encouraging contracting with diverse businesses. Highlights include:
  • Spending with minority-owned business enterprises increased by 30 percent and totaled over $2.5 billion last year.
  • Three companies – San Diego Gas and Electric, AT&T and Verizon -- now allocate more than one quarter of their spending to MBEs. Pacific Gas and Electric also showed a marked increase.
  • Spending with minority women-owned enterprises grew dramatically.
“The large increases in contracting with diverse businesses are encouraging,” said report co-author Samuel S. Kang, Greenlining’s general counsel, “but contracting still doesn’t nearly match the diversity of a state that is now nearly 60 percent people of color, so there’s much more work to do.”

Telecom companies are particularly in the spotlight due to AT&T’s pending bid to purchase T-Mobile. “If AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile is approved, it will give the company enormous influence over major firms that it buys supplies and services from,” Kang said. “That would give AT&T a huge opportunity to show those suppliers across the country, particularly in high tech, the benefits of diversifying their supplier base and reaching out to all communities.”
The full report is available online here.

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