“It’s all about the impact – by changing the conversations, we’re helping change lives.” – Shirley Potestio, AT&T’s Senior Supplier Diversity Sourcing Manager
Representation matters. At AT&T, we believe that our supply chain should be as diverse as our employees and the customers we serve.
That’s why, more than 50 years ago, we began seeking out and working with diverse suppliers. What started as a strategic business decision, AT&T’s Supplier Diversity program has evolved into an important component of our corporate identity.
For us, supplier diversity is not about compliance. It is a significant contributor to our success.
- In fact, studies show that supplier diversity can provide an important competitive advantage for businesses yielding more external relationships and improving risk mitigation.1
With $214 billion spent on services provided by minority-, woman-, veteran-, LGBTQ+- and disability-owned business enterprises since 1968, AT&T has sought to make meaningful and measurable contributions to the economic growth of communities across the country – all while increasing quality, limiting cost and encouraging innovation.
If anyone personifies our ongoing commitment to supplier diversity, it’s Shirley Potestio – our Senior Supplier Diversity Sourcing Manager. With 22 years under her belt, Shirley has helped us evolve and modernize our approach to supplier diversity.
In her position, Shirley works directly with our sourcing teams and business units to identify specific areas of opportunity and include diverse businesses in competitive bidding processes. When asked to describe the goals of the program, Shirley said it best:
- “It’s all about the impact – by changing the conversations, we’re helping change lives. By collaborating with our diverse suppliers, we’re building stronger local communities and creating stronger local economies.”
Managers like Shirley also ensure prospective suppliers are identified, considered and mentored throughout the sourcing process. In fact, in order to help suppliers achieve successful outcomes, we provide several programs that offer business development support.
- “I love meeting new diverse suppliers, hearing their stories and working together to showcase their value and services to help AT&T succeed – it is a win-win for both,” Shirley explains.
For Shirley, the work is more than just a job.
- “Being a Hispanic female, helping others in our community is part of my culture and I love being that person who makes the introduction to get the conversation started.”
It’s perspectives like Shirley’s that spur us to constantly improve and finesse our Supplier Diversity program. We recently broadened the parameters of our efforts to go beyond the traditional spend goals and measurements, and now, our parameters include:
- Direct Supplier Spend and Utilization: Evaluating expenditures within diverse segments and industry categories to grow the number of businesses utilized.
- Driving Economic Impact: Measuring the impact of jobs retained and created through our corporate contracts.
- Promoting Business Mentorship, Advocacy and Diversity Throughout: Developing business fostering initiatives to enhance supplier advocacy and expand the measurement of supplier diversity throughout all stages of our supply chains.
At AT&T, we value the innovation and fresh ideas that diverse businesses bring to the table. Since 1968, we’ve committed to making meaningful contributions to the economic growth of diverse companies and communities through the impact of our Supplier Diversity program and employees like Shirley.
1 Bateman, Alexis, et al. “Why You Need a Supplier-Diversity Program.” Harvard Business Review, 17 Aug. 2020.