By Tony Khing
SAN FRANCISCO – In celebration of Black History Month, PG&E’s Supplier Diversity Department and the company’s Black Employee Resource Group played host to an event on Monday (Feb. 23) in PG&E’s San Francisco main office aimed at educating African-American-owned companies about resources and opportunities to grow their business.
The “Doing Business with PG&E” workshop featured individuals who shared their knowledge on how to work with PG&E and how to get access to capital and contracts. Participants heard about the state of African-American-owned enterprises, listened to current primary vendors who partner with the utility and met other business peers. Representatives from more than 80 businesses attended the event.
“This was a great opportunity for businesses of all sizes to learn about the resources available to them,” said Jerilyn Gleaves, manager of supplier diversity for PG&E.
PG&E’s spend with African-American-owned enterprises was $433.2 million in 2013. Not only was that figure an all-time high, it also accounted for nearly 6 percent of the company’s record-setting $2.3 billion total spend.
The thought of doing business with a company as big as PG&E may seem intimidating to some of the enterprises in attendance at the workshop. Gleaves said some companies may be overwhelmed when considering going through the layers of people to meet to secure a contract.
“A lot of minority companies are smaller firms. They’re startups or have smaller revenue and volume. They don’t see themselves as large enough to compete,” said Tamara Rashid, a regional vice president for workforce solutions and PG&E vendor Agile-1.
But Rashid, whose company has worked with PG&E for nearly five years, said one message she conveyed at the workshop was size shouldn’t be a consideration. “We don’t believe that’s true,” said Rashid. “But it’s a perception a lot of suppliers have. If your service is good and you have a solution that PG&E could take advantage of, absolutely throw your hat in the ring. Be as competitive and build as many relationships as you can. ”
Rashid also said a partnership with PG&E has benefits that go beyond the bottom line. “PG&E has a commitment to diversity,” she said. “I can’t say that about a lot of organizations, but PG&E has demonstrated that in a variety of ways. We strongly encourage African-American-owned businesses to join the fold. It’s a very encouraging and supportive environment, one that would assist them in growing and establishing their reputations.”
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