For several years now, spending with diverse business vendors has been an important goal for Southern California Edison (SCE). In 2011, the utility reached nearly $1.4 billion, about 34 percent of its procurement budget and a number even higher than the 21.5 percent set by the California Public Utilities Commission for the same year.
As supplier diversity continues to be a key goal for SCE, the utility aims to reach a target goal of 40 percent by 2016.
“The goal is to foster opportunities to partner and subcontract with us,” said Megan Jordan, SCE vice president of Corporate Communications, at the California Utilities Diversity Council’s Third Annual Diverse Advertising and Media Outreach Forum hosted at SCE’s Energy Education Center, where diverse businesses from across California learned how to do business with California utilities.
SCE and the California Utilities Diversity Council are working to strengthen the connection between utilities and Diverse Business Enterprises to address and improve the inclusion of diverse firms — media outlets, media buying services, and advertising/direct marketing agencies in California that are minority-owned, women-owned and service disabled veteran-owned enterprises.
“It is important to understand Census data and understand the community,” said Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval, who spoke at the recent forum. “Companies are missing the mark if they are not communicating to the community in-language in a way that resonates and demonstrates that a company understands them.”
For the past seven years, IW Group, a minority-owned Asian marketing firm has been conducting business with SCE. The firm is responsible for media planning and buying services for all markets and was recently selected to provide Asian creative services as part of a team with woman-owned agency Quigley-Simpson.
“We know firsthand what it means to be a Diverse Business Enterprise and wanted to be able to share our story,” said Nita Song, IW Group president and chief operating officer, who spoke on a panel focusing on building relationships and shared tips on how to better conduct businesses with utilities. “This event does a great job of bringing together key decision-makers from the client side and agency side, and connecting them with diverse businesses.”
The forum also had a meet and greet that allowed the diverse businesses an opportunity to meet with agencies and representatives from the utilities including: the California Water Association, Comcast, Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, SCE, Southern California Gas and Time Warner Cable.