Source: The Greenlining Institute | Written by: Thalia N.C. Gonzalez

Contact:
Thalia N.C. Gonzalez
Senior Legal Counsel
(510) 926-4002
F: (510) 926-4010
thaliag@greenlining.org

BERKELEY , CA – Verizon has surpassed the 2006 & 2007 leader, AT&T, with an impressive 19.3% of its total contracting to minority owned businesses, according to the recently released Greenlining Institute’s 2008 Supplier Diversity Report Card. In contrast, Southern California Edison once again finished last, as a result of its continued decrease in contracts awarded to minority owned businesses.

The report, which measures the performance of utility and broadband companies subject to California Public Utilities Commission scrutiny has been the benchmark for companies and the Commission for more than fifteen years.

As the report revealed, the six companies awarded nearly $9.7 billion in contracts in California during 2007. This represents an increase from the $8.7 billion in contracts awarded in 2006. Unfortunately, this success comes with continued challenges for minority owned businesses, since even though contract spending increased, the percentage of contracts to minority owned businesses declined.

OVERALL RANKINGS

Company Percentage (%) Grade
1 Verizon 19.29% A-
2 Southern California Gas 18.18% B+
3 San Diego Gas & Electric 18.29% B+
4 AT&T 16.67% C
5 Pacific Gas & Electric 14.45% D
6 Southern California Edison 14.91% F

The Greenlining Institute identified, in the report, three significant factors which may have led to this decline:

• The challenges faced by small businesses, which represent well over 99% of this state’s 1.5 million minority owned businesses, to become certified to do business with utilities and broadband companies. With rare exceptions, small minority owned businesses have not received adequate technical assistance and the much needed resources to increase their capacity and opportunities.

• A failure to meet targets and good-faith goals for minority women owned businesses. In fact, no company awarded even 4% of contracts to minority women owned businesses and none have developed focused programs to prioritize significant changes.

• A failure to aggressively and effectively increase contracting with disabled veteran and Native American owned businesses.

To address these challenges, the Greenlining Institute has recommended the Commission and regulated companies place a targeted and strategic focus on assisting California ‘s 1.5 million small minority owned businesses. It is critical that all companies improve their contracting with small minority owned businesses, as Faith Bautista, President of the Mabuhay Alliance of San Diego, emphasized in her testimony on April 28, 2008 at a Commission public hearing in Long Beach, California, “ Supplier diversity, small business – this is a backbone of the economy .”