A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Coordinator, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA — Utility and telecommunications companies are doing somewhat more business with minority contractors, but Southern California Edison and northern California’s Pacific Gas and Electric lag behind, while cable companies — which increasingly compete with regulated telecommunications firms for broadband business — are virtually missing in action, according to the Greenlining Institute’s 2010 Supplier Diversity Report Card.

“Diverse contracting boils down to something really simple,” said Greenlining Managing Attorney Samuel S. Kang. “Are the communities hardest hit by the recession going to get a decent shot at participating in growth industries like broadband and green energy? Thus far, the record is decidedly mixed.”

The report card, available online at <> , is based on data provided under the California Public Utility Commission’s General Order 156, which requires regulated utility and telecommunications firms to report on their contracting with businesses owned by minorities, women, and disabled veterans. The order sets non-binding goals of 15 percent of contract dollars going to minority-owned firms, five percent for women-owned firms, and 1.5 percent to firms owned by disabled veterans.

Among the key findings:

  • Overall, minority business spending  increased, but spending with firms owned by minority women and  Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders declined.
  • Southern California Gas and San  Diego Gas and Electric (both owned by Sempra Energy), Verizon, and AT&T  were rated as industry leaders. PG&E and Southern California Edison  received grades of “Needs Improvement,” and Sprint was rated as  “Failing.”
  • Cable companies, which increasingly  compete with regulated telecommunications firms, report relatively little  data, and what they did report suggests minimal contracting with diverse  firms. Cox was graded as “failing” while Comcast and Time Warner Cable were  rated “noncompliant” because they provided so little information.
  • Contracts with minority-owned firms  were concentrated in a few categories, with hardly any minority contracting in  some fields, such as legal services. African-American and Latino women, for  example, received zero legal services spending from both AT&T and  PG&E.