We delivered on our commitment to invest in Black-owned businesses and contribute to the economic impact in communities across the U.S.
AT&T spent $3.1 billion with Black-owned suppliers, surpassing a $3 billion two-year commitment to drive diversity and inclusion across our business and communities where we live and work.
It was our largest commitment made with Black-owned suppliers since we launched our Supplier Diversity efforts in 1968 as a response to the civil unrest and economic disparities many diverse businesses were encountering.
Fast forward to 2021
We have one of the largest supplier diversity programs in corporate America. Never has diversity in our supply chain been more important than now. We surpassed our commitment to spend $3 billion by year-end 2020. To reach our commitment, we added several new Black suppliers while increasing spend with others. Black suppliers support AT&T across different lines of business including legal, professional services, warehousing, logistics, advertising and marketing services, fuel, construction and engineering, property management and fiber installation.
Many helped us get through COVID-19 by keeping our supply chain resilient, ensuring a reliable fuel supply for our fleets and even distributing pandemic-related supplies to our global workforce to keep our employees safe.
“Supplier Diversity has always been an important component of our identity at AT&T and is part of everything we do,” said Jeff McElfresh, CEO, AT&T Communications. “Our supplier base should be as diverse as our employee base and the customers we serve. We will continue to build upon this accomplishment and seek out Black-owned and other diverse suppliers and drive diversity throughout our supply chain.”
Our relationships with Black-owned suppliers have had tangible economic impact for their businesses and the communities they serve, from hiring new workers and expanding their companies’ footprints to supporting their suppliers and mentoring others.
Two of these firms are Trillion Communications, a premier provider of supply chain management and logistics services for the global connectivity industry, and Hightowers Petroleum Co., a family-owned multimillion-dollar bulk fuel supplier.
We’ve been working with Trillion since 2001 to help maintain the resiliency of our supply chain. During that time Trillion doubled its workforce and scaled its business across seven states to help manage our inventory of handsets, tablets and other consumer devices.
“Working with AT&T is like having the wind at your back,” said Brian Hamilton, President & CEO, of the firm, based in Bessemer, Ala.
This year, Trillion is taking on the sourcing, testing and repair of cellular devices at its Lakeside, Texas, warehouse near Dallas. “This allows us to reinvest in our business and our workforce, provide additional training and enhance skill sets that are necessary to thrive in an evolving economy,” said Hamilton. He expects that the new business from AT&T will support about 200 new jobs at the Lakeside warehouse including subcontractors.
“The reason you want to invest in Black businesses is the multiplier effect it has on the broader economy. As businesses thrive, jobs are created, which leads to increases in commerce. That’s good for communities of color and we need more of that,” Hamilton said.
Hightowers Petroleum, based in Middletown, Ohio, plays a key role in another function vital to our business – keeping more than 80,000 of AT&T’s fleet vehicles fueled up efficiently and economically with diesel through a discount program with major gas station chains.
Stephen L. Hightower, President & CEO, said that working with AT&T since 2018 has helped the company grow, expand its business and attract new customers. “It shows the world that we’re able to scale up to any level. If we can work with one of the largest fleets in America, then we can do it for anybody. A rising tide lifts all boats.”
“We’re the largest African-American company in the region. The image of a Black business doing things that non-minority companies have done serves a role model for young people. When they see our signs out on the highway, it builds self-esteem,” Hightower said.
He and his son, Stephen II, chief operating officer of the company, are active in local organizations that mentor young people, taking one group to the state Capitol recently, exposing them to opportunities to learn about government and business to build the next generation of entrepreneurs.
As the company’s relationship with AT&T matures, Hightower sees opportunities for exponential growth both for his business and the community – “doing things together that will help bridge the digital divide and more.”
We’re committed for the long term
Our commitment to doing business with Black suppliers doesn’t stop with surpassing the $3.1 billion milestone.
We will maintain our focus in 2021 and beyond on an inclusive supply chain that recognizes the value Black-owned and other diverse suppliers bring to AT&T. That means continuing and deepening current relationships while seeking new suppliers with unique, innovative, cost-efficient capabilities that align with our business priorities including next generation 5G deployment, FirstNet and fiber expansion to communities across the U.S.
Supplier diversity is one of the things that helps drive our commitment to diversity and inclusion across our business and the communities we serve.