By Tony Khing and Andy Castagnola
PG&E has been recognized as one of America’s top corporations for support of women’s business enterprises in 2014 by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). The award, which honors corporations enabling growth and reducing barriers for women-owned businesses, was presented Thursday (March 18) at the group’s Summit & Salute to Women’s Business Enterprises in Baltimore.
Last year, PG&E spent more than $1 billion with women-owned businesses, accounting for almost 20 percent of the utility’s overall supplier spending and nearly 50 percent of the company’s $2.1 billion spend with diverse suppliers in 2014.
“PG&E has long been committed to providing opportunities for diverse suppliers, including businesses owned by women. By helping these companies thrive, we’re improving the safety, reliability and affordability of our service, and we’re investing in our local communities and driving California’s economy at the same time,” said PG&E Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Helen Burt. Besides accepting the award for the utility, Burt participated in a roundtable on energy and utilities at the event.
Burt believes women-owned businesses have tremendous opportunities to help support and share in the future growth of the utility industry.
“PG&E wants to be a launching pad for women’s business enterprises in the new energy economy,” she said.
In a number of ways, PG&E is helping diverse businesses succeed in the evolving energy industry.
For example, PG&E offers a Supplier Development Program, which provides executive mentorship for the CEOs of current diverse suppliers. In addition, the utility has a Technical Assistance Program that offers a series of business development workshops and seminars specifically tailored for the small and diverse business community.
The company also supports President Barack Obama’s SupplierPay Pledge, which encourages large corporations to develop ways to help their small-business suppliers address financial challenges. “Small firms are responsible for the majority of job creation in the United States while generating close to half of our gross domestic product. Too many of them continue to struggle to access capital, and that creates a drag on our nation’s economic growth,” said Burt.
Looking ahead, Burt challenged corporations to continue focusing on the ways they can support diverse businesses—and women’s business enterprises (WBEs) in particular.
“I think in the future, we’ll be talking less about simply integrating WBEs into the supply chain and more about the quality of the programs and initiatives that support WBE success—from technical assistance to supplier development. Our responsibility on the corporate side is to make sure WBEs are informed and aware of industry trends so they can evolve with us,” said Burt.
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