Minority Business Entrepreneur

March/April 2014

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Making a Difference g CORPORATE STRATEGIES By Ryan Hamilton RATE STRATEGIES CORPO Alderete With talk of projects, contracts, and best practices, it can be easy to lose sight of the central mission of supplier diversity: to make a differ- ence. Supplier diversity is the idea that a company's supplier base should reflect the various types of people it serves—and that individuals f rom communities that might not have the same business connections as individuals from other communities should get the same chance to gener- ate and create wealth for themselves and those around them. Joe Alderete is one individual who has not lost sight of the endgame. As director of Supplier Diversity and Development at Southern California Edison, he spends his time empow- ering individuals through business opportunity. "If you look back at supplier diversity's early stages, it was considered more of a social program—trying to get minorities and women and service-disabled veterans in the supply chain mix. Today, it is a part of business," he explains. "I look at it from a perspective of it being a good business practice. It supports folks in our community; it supports the customers we serve. "Providing diverse opportunities for diverse business across the board has had a major impact in our communities," Alderete adds. The business model he works with is unique— a highly regulated utility that has a monopoly in specified geographic areas. "We hire diverse businesses in our territory and it, in turn, drives up the opportunity to keep dollars in our communities and helps provide good jobs." Under Alderete's leadership at SoCal Edison, diverse spend has risen to 41 percent. "That is a significant number," he says. "We do business with about 800 suppliers. Not all of them are in our service area, but we try to provide as many opportunities as possible to get women, minority, and service-disabled veterans in our supply chain process." Alderete says that the process isn't just about getting diverse businesses into the supply chain—work has to be done to maintain, grow, and improve diverse businesses to maximize the impact that supplier diversity can make on a community. "It isn't just about the spend," he says bluntly. "It is also about developing and mentoring suppliers. Many of the folks we men- tor or provide educational assistance to along the way make a better company. They might not do business with us at all times, but [there] is one better company in our service territory." This makes sense from SoCal Edison's perspective, as well, Alderete says. "You have to look at the development side of the equation. Sustainability is important. If we're going to continue to have this high level of spend—41 percent—we need suppliers in the pipe that are going to grow with SoCal Edison," he says. What makes Alderete unique among his peers is his perspective of supplier diversity's effects on the marketplace. Many decision-makers justify supplier diversity as adding to sustainability, supporting the community, or retaining top-level 12 March/April 2014 MBE

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