Supplier Diversity in Big Energy: Race in the Workplace

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This is the seventh episode of the Voices of Energy’s limited series, Race in the Workplace. This series compiles the insights of several black energy professionals from our conversations with them during the Summer of 2020. Amy Deaton, emcee of this series, has categorized these insights into several themes around race in our workplaces. This episode, Supplier Diversity in Big Energy, aims to answer some essential questions about the challenges that small, minority-owned businesses face in the industry and how bigger companies can support these businesses.

Big energy biases (01:30)

The first guest to share on this topic is Gaurdie Banister. Gaurdie is the former CEO of Aera Energy and a member of the DOW Board of Directors. He addresses the resistance some big companies have against hiring black suppliers. He points out a time when minority development programs would take black-owned small businesses under their wing and help them grow. Additionally, he shares some similar current programs that are beginning to surface again, such as the Billion Dollar Club. This program reaches out to black-owned businesses and aims to help support them in the oil and gas business. He goes on to explain that one way to address this challenge of the resistance faced is to continue to push forward, to bring in new ideas, and to look for opportunities to network with bigger businesses. Other companies can also help by utilizing black owned businesses and the resources and experience they have to offer.

Expanding your network and growing strategically (05:44)

The next speaker Amy introduces is Paula Glover, the President of Alliance to Save Energy. She offers advice for different ways black small business owners can expand their networks. One piece of advice is to always look for ways to grow the organization. Find other organizations to network with who you can learn and grow from, and who can give you a window into new opportunities. This kind of investment can make a big impact on the growth of networks and opportunities. In order to do this, small businesses can strategically integrate themselves into larger organizations. 

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Additionally, she encourages companies who don’t have the capacity to be the prime supplier to look for ways to be a second tier or third tier supplier. This allows small businesses to climb their way up and to evaluate what they are supplying and how they can adjust it to meet particular business needs.

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