AT&T* announced today the launch of Operation Hand Salute (OHS), a new supplier diversity program designed to mentor and develop Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBEs). The year-long program will match current AT&T suppliers and various industry experts and community leaders with a select group of California DVBEs and help coach and position them towards the next level of success.
The term “Hand Salute” signifies AT&T’s longstanding leadership in developing and promoting DVBEs and increasing contracting opportunities. AT&T’s goal is to spend 1.5 percent of its total purchases with DVBEs, a group of businesses who have historically proven to be valuable business solution providers in AT&T’s supply chain.
“DVBEs possess unique leadership skills and a remarkable mission-focused ethic that enable companies like AT&T to succeed and provide world class products and services. Some of this comes from their top-notch military training,” said Tim Harden, AT&T president of Supply Chain and Fleet Operations. “At AT&T, we are proud of our legacy and will continue to work with value-add suppliers, thought-leaders and stakeholders to promote supplier diversity.”
OHS’s goal is to address the challenges DVBEs face in the marketplace and provide them with the necessary tools to improve their business operations and subsequently their ability to win corporate contracts.
The year-long program will match seven qualified mentees with two mentors – a current AT&T supplier and an AT&T employee that is on the Operation Hand Salute Task Force. Members of the Operation Hand Salute Task Force include AT&T Supply Chain & Fleet Operations experts, veterans of the armed forces, and members of AT&T’s Global Supplier Diversity team. The diversity of experience and background will help program participants achieve success. John Lopez, founder and President of the Association for Service Disabled Veterans, is the subject matter expert consultant of OHS and will conduct formal training sessions as well as coach the DVBE businesses.
OHS will offer dynamic workshops covering everything from quality certification to a thorough overview of global procurement processes and corporate supply chain requirements. At the end of the program, mentees will be better positioned to register for TL 9000 certification, a quality management system designed to meet the supply chain quality requirements of the telecommunications industry.
"This is about finding more diverse vendors and suppliers to help support our California business," said Ken McNeely, President, AT&T California. "For the next year we're stepping up our help to disabled veteran business owners, so they can improve their operations and navigate the complex certification process required of them. We expect it will result in more businesses joining our supply chain–and will help disabled veterans in a significant way."
AT&T’s DVBE Program began in 1993. Working with the national Association for Service Disabled Veterans (ASDV), AT&T led the private sector in championing the passage of the Disabled Veterans Business Act of 1999. Charles Foster, a then AT&T group president in 1999, testified before Congress on the merits of this landmark legislation. The law has been described as the most significant legislation in history to promote broad economic opportunities for disabled veteran enterprises.
In 2009, AT&T spent over $74 million dollars with businesses owned by DVBEs. In the past 10 years, AT&T has continually increased its DVBE utilization, spending over $721 million dollars with DVBE firms. In a benchmark comparison, AT&T outperformed all other California utilities in including disabled veteran-owned businesses in its supply chain in 2009 by spending $36 million dollars in California alone.
AT&T is a long-time supporter and member of the Association for Service Disabled Veterans (ASDV), National Veteran Owned Business Association (NaVOBA), Elite Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB), the California DVBE Alliance, and the DVBE Alliance Corporate Advisory Board, in addition to supporting several other supplier diversity organizations.
Operation Hand Salute is not the first AT&T program designed to help diverse businesses succeed in the marketplace. Last year, AT&T coached and mentored a pilot group of small, women-owned business owners through its Women of Color Businesses (WOCB) Growth Initiative. A key component of the program was also to assist the small businesses in obtaining TL9000 quality certification.
OHS will kick off on Thursday, May 13, at the AT&T San Ramon Administrative Center, located at 2600 Camino Ramon, in San Ramon, California. The event will begin at noon with a brief overview of the program followed by a reception hosted by AT&T’s Tim Harden. Mentees are expected to graduate from the 12-month program in May of 2011.
To view Ken McNeely’s video about AT&T’s commitment to increasing opportunities for DVBEs or for more information about the program, visit http://www.att.com/gen/corporate-citizenship?pid=17206.