LOS ANGELES - Businesses owned by women, people of color and disabled veterans earned almost a third of Verizon Communication's supplier contracts in California last year, a record that helped the company win two prestigious national awards and a statewide commendation.
Verizon purchased almost $128 million in goods and services from women and minority suppliers in California last year and more than $1.3 billion nationally, making the company a charter member of the elite Billion Dollar Roundtable. The roundtable, a project of Minority Business News U.S.A. and Women's Enterprise Magazine, includes a select circle of corporations that each spend more than $1 billion annually with minority and women-owned businesses.
Verizon's aggressive outreach to minority and women-owned businesses also earned the company a spot on Working Woman's top 30 list of companies for supplier diversity published in the magazine's April 2001 issue. Companies were measured on outreach to diverse suppliers in their communities and promotion of supplier diversity within their organizations.
"Verizon believes its supplier base should reflect the composition of its customer base," said John Rodriguez, Verizon manager of supplier diversity in California. "This as an integral part of our business strategy and we will continue to look for these kinds of opportunities. Our goal is make Verizon the industry leader in supplier diversity."
The San Francisco-based Greenlining Institute, a watchdog for corporate diversity compliance, recently commended Verizon "for its progress and leadership achievements" in providing contracts to people of color. Of the contracts awarded last year to women and minority-owned businesses, 21.6 percent were awarded to people of color. These contracts represented 28.5 percent of Verizon's total expenditures.
Greenlining, a non-profit advocacy organization, issued a report this month that gave Verizon an A- for its minority supplier diversity outreach.
"Verizon has a strong track record of working with diverse suppliers," said Robert Gnaizda, policy director for the Greelining Institute. "Verizon's record was seven times greater than the national corporate average." Greenlining also applauded Verizon's $25 million commitment over 10 years to in an independent fund for community and educational programs that serve the state's low-income, minority, ethnic and other "underserved" communities.
Last year, Verizon exceeded its goal to spend 14 percent of its procurement budget nationally with women and minority suppliers. In 2001, the company plans to spend 16 percent with these businesses.
"These are both great honors for Verizon and proof that we are meeting our own commitment to award more business to minority and women-owned firms," said Jeannie Diefenderfer, Verizon senior vice president for Corporate Sourcing. "We pledged to increase our spending with minority suppliers to $1 billion by the end of 2000, and we've exceeded that goal. A diverse supplier base is a key component to Verizon's success. Minority and women-owned businesses provide innovative ideas and quality goods and services that help Verizon to be more competitive."
Verizon and its predecessor companies, Bell Atlantic and GTE, have a long-standing commitment to supporting minority and women-owned businesses. Verizon contributed $10 million in 1999 to a private equity fund sponsored by Black Enterprise Magazine and Citigroup to finance growth of minority and women-owned businesses. In 2000, Verizon contributed another $10 million to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce equity fund for the development of Hispanic-owned businesses.
Verizon's Corporate Sourcing organization actively recruits qualified minority and women suppliers to submit competitive bids for company purchases. The company also joins forces with advocacy groups such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council and the Women's Business Enterprise National Council to identify and mentor minority and women-owned businesses.
In California[JR1] Verizon supports business seminars and trade fairs that provide business education and procurement opportunities to diverse suppliers.
Verizon also holds seminars nationally to assist firms in responding to Verizon's requests for proposals, creating advertising and implementing e-business technologies. Minority suppliers can register their business online and find more information at www.verizon.com/diversity/suppliers.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 112 million access line equivalents and 27 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.