Empowering the AAPI Community Through Economic Opportunities
By Ellen Valencia, AVP - Logistics at AT&T
“Our society doesn’t work if it doesn’t work equally for all.” This is a core belief we hold true at AT&T and one which drives our commitment and responsibility, year-round, to foster a sense of belonging and empowerment among our employees, our communities, our customers and our suppliers. We are shaping the future by investing in the present, as we understand the positive impact that economic empowerment can bring to the communities where we live and work.
One way we can make a meaningful impact to the economic growth of diverse companies and communities is through our Supplier Diversity program. We also drive meaningful impact with our AAPI suppliers through advocacy efforts with groups like the US Pan American Asian Chamber of Commerce (USPAACC), and with scholarships and educational opportunities like the AT&T Business Growth Acceleration Program (BGAP), which provides mentorship to a select group of qualified business leaders toward improving their business operations.
We work closely with our suppliers to stimulate job growth, improve opportunities for technical training and drive new diverse businesses. Minority-owned businesses have a major impact on our economic output, much of which is reinvested in local communities. According to the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), “certified minority-owned businesses generate $400 billion in annual economic output—and $49 billion in annual revenue for local, state and federal tax authorities—that results in the creation or preservation of 2.2 million jobs.”
At AT&T, we are proud to have collaborated for more than 50 years with a diverse group of businesses and enterprises owned by BIPOC, women, service-disabled veterans, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities. The Supplier Diversity program not only provides an opportunity to a diverse range of business owners but empowers them, in turn, to provide opportunities for others.
I’m proud of our continued work towards providing economic empowerment opportunities for my community. In honor of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Heritage Month, we would like to acknowledge our more than 90 AAPI suppliers, with whom we have invested $4.6 billion in the past three years alone. Learn more about some of those courageous journeys, here:
Co-Founder, President and CEO, SHI International
Thai Lee, a Korean-American businesswoman born in Thailand, leads the largest minority woman-owned business in the United States. Comprised of 5,000 employees serving 15,000 customers across four continents, SHI is a global solutions provider of IT products and services. Its $12 billion in annual revenues ranks SHI among Forbes’ largest private companies while also being named a Top 500 Best Employers for Diversity in 2020. Thai’s heritage and inclusive management style has been a significant influence on the company’s DE&I strategy.
Since co-founding the company that was then called “Software House International in 1989, Thai has served as the company’s only President and CEO. SHI has supported AT&T since 1995, first as a traditional software reseller and later through an integrated hardware procurement platform.
Today AT&T has a leasing agreement with SHI that covers thousands of computers, printers, mobile phones and tablets for AT&T internal use.
In Thai’s words, the key to SHI’s success is the wonderfully diverse talent and the nurturing, inclusive culture of the company. “Being the software reseller for AT&T put us on the map with the biggest software publishers, enabling us to expand our authorizations, capabilities and capacity, to ultimately win new clients. Without AT&T taking a leap of faith with SHI at that time, I can’t say for sure that we would have grown and thrived as we have for the last 30+ years,” she said.
CEO of Fortune Metal Group
Norman Ng emigrated to the US from Hong Kong in 1979 and opened his first scrap facility in Brooklyn, NY, in 1987. The Fortune Metal Group has grown one of the largest asset recovery firms in the US offering professional recycling services to FORTUNE 500 corporations around the globe. AT&T was one of Fortune’s first customers and the relationship has been integral to the company’s growth. Ng had a vision to provide recycling services in an environmentally sound fashion. Fortune supports the sorting of materials such cable and electronics that can be sold or recycled to avoid disposal into a landfill.
Fortune supports AT&T’s investment recovery activities throughout the US with tools that have allowed AT&T to have near real time status of recycling activities. Fortune’s detailed recordkeeping systems allow AT&T to report metrics that are important to corporate sustainability initiatives such as landfill reduction.
“Our collaboration with AT&T has allowed us to provide environmentally sound scrap processing and recycling in many communities throughout the US. Those communities realize economic benefits through employment, providing support services and materials, as well as soft services such as hospitality,” said Ng.
CEO of Telamon
Chen’s parents started the company and credit their start to AT&T. Telamon is a multi-generational family-owned business based in Carmel, Indiana, that designs, builds and installs telecommunication networks enabling connectivity from traditional mobile phone usage and connectivity in stadiums, hospitals and schools, all the way down to connected safety in cars with the industrial manufacturing of wire harnesses for airbag and seatbelt applications.
Telamon has been working with AT&T for 37 years as one of its earliest customers and during that time grown into a global enterprise with more than $750 million in annual revenue, 14 locations across the U.S. and more than 2,000 associates. Telamon provides AT&T with logistics and distribution of for core network equipment, building out deployments across the US.
“AT&T had demonstrated its commitment to minority-owned businesses. We have our own supplier diversity program across Minority Business Enterprise segments, and we have weighted hiring targets across our US locations to ensure that our hiring demographic tracks with the communities we serve,” said Chen.
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