Annual Spend Reports Show No Tangible Benefits

The CA Public Utilities Commission monitors supplier diversity in procurements by participating utilities and oversees a clearinghouse of women; minority; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT); and disabled veteran-owned business enterprises. Our clearinghouse operator verifies the status of firms seeking certification as women, minority and/or LGBT-owned. Disabled veteran-owned businesses are certified by the Office of Small Business & Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Services (OSDS), a unit of the Department of General Services. 

The CA Public Utilities Commission monitors supplier diversity in procurements by participating utilities and oversees a clearinghouse of women; minority; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT); and disabled veteran-owned business enterprises. Our clearinghouse operator verifies the status of firms seeking certification as women, minority and/or LGBT-owned. Disabled veteran-owned businesses are certified by the Office of Small Business & Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Services (OSDS), a unit of the Department of General Services.

Since 1968, AT&T has disbursed over $27 billion dollars with minority, women, disabled-veteran and LGBT businesses in California alone.  For the year 2017, this mega corporation spent in California $1.7 billion with the firms.  Now before you get too excited over the large amount money being disbursed to these groups, bear in mind that it represents 21.59% of the total spend, which means that white male owned firms received 78.41% of the total spend.  A footnote is that white females who a significant number are married to white males received 6.31% of the total spend, thereby making that 78.41% more than likely exceeding 80% of the money shared with white males.

The percent of the aforementioned spend shows .15% went to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT); and .59% to disabled veteran-owned business enterprises.  Each of these designated group include a large number of white males.  So the routine continues to have white males earning the bulk of the spend that is universal for all the major corporations.

AT&T is a quick case study to stretch a point that minority communities are not improving from annual spend for two basic reasons.  The first is that the money is not going toward geographical minority communities and second, their is no emphasis on employment and hiring when awarding contracts.  Unless contracting includes job development then where will an underutilized labor force ever get a chance.  The character of a community can easily be seen with the growing need to house people and build shelters and affordable housing projects.

The California American Water claims to recognize the value of supplier diversity as a strategic business decision.  Their commitment to identifying diverse suppliers and offering them an opportunity to compete for materials and services contracts leaves room for wondering how many black business enterprises are available in the vast service territory.  Reason being is that of the direct spend with black-owned and operated businesses this major corporation spent .091% with blacks for direct materials and services, or $2,081,248.  The tangible jobs that help to build communities can not be measured by reporting from this company, whereas the amount of money does not break down over what period this money account for.

Comcast receives a black-eye award for spending a measly .69% with black-owned male businesses and zero spend with black woman-owned business enterprises.  To have less than one percent of your spend go toward blacks is so sad because these supplier diversity programs grew from the Civil Rights era of the 1960’s where major corporations were pushed to increase their outreach to blacks, particular corporations that received government contracts.  Plus, how do have a major corporation making multi-million buyouts and not have one female-owned company that you are doing business with operated by a black woman. Black female entrepreneurs are very active and most black dominant business conference show a majority of females engaging large corporate contracts.

The unofficial Black Power award should go to Cox for spending 14.9% of is spend, or $429,262,233 in the year 2017 went to black-owned business enterprises.  For this year, Cox Communications that provides cable, high-speed Internet, wireline telecommunications and home security & automation services in California reported a total spend with WMDVLGBTBE totaling $698,186,924 (23.90%).

Worse than a black-eye award is the black hole award that foes to Frontier Corporation.  This company in 2017 did not spend a dime with black business.  A company performance like this shows there is a serious misunderstanding as to why have a supplier diversity/inclusion operation.  Obviously this company does have the best interest of small business development.  It is in the hole and behind on growing communities through diverse buying practices.  It shows that their employees are out of touch with black entrepreneurs.  Most people are not familiar with how to get in touch with Frontier.

So, it looks like with all of this talk about billion dollar spends that the composition of this seemingly impressive disbursement of funds is that economic progress among previously excluded groups is still at the starting gate.  when you ask companies to certify their ownership the certification answer is ” I am the company with no contract, or opportunity to bid.”  Ino other words why spend all of this money to create a database if you are not going to use it.  where is the report showing phone numbers and email addresses of those that influence the buying decision.  Department heads that initiate a make or buy proposal contact information should be circulated long enough until the company begins showing headway on using black entperprises.