Originally published at about.att.com. Anne Chow is the CEO of AT&T Business. AT&T is a Hall of Fame company.
Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on women’s accomplishments and the progress we’ve made as a society. Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard and read so many incredible stories of women innovators who break barriers, solve challenges and lift others along the way. And while it’s energizing and inspiring to celebrate these stories — this month and every month of the year — we’re also reminded of the progress that still needs to be made.
At AT&T we recognize that there must be access to opportunity to reach equality for all. One way to achieve that is through economic empowerment. Economic empowerment is providing education, financial investment and access to skills building to under-represented and marginalized communities.
One example that I’m a huge proponent of and particularly proud of is AT&T’s Women of Color (WOC) Program. Women leaders are an important part of AT&T’s workforce and women of color face unique challenges. The WOC Program was designed to advance an inclusive work environment where women of color are welcomed and valued for who they are and what they contribute. Launched in 2019, this invitation-only program enabled high-performing women of color to participate in an opt-in experience exploring how leaders like them achieve success, connect and gain support.
In late March 2021 an expanded version of the program launched and is now available to all employees. WOC CONNECT offers an enterprise-wide Women of Color experience for all employees. Whether you’re a Woman of Color, an ally interested in learning more or a supervisor who wants to explore more about your diverse team — there’s an opportunity for everyone.
Another avenue for equipping women business owners is the robust Supplier Diversity program we established over 50 years ago in 1968, with an objective to stimulate job growth, improve opportunities for technical training and support new diverse businesses. Through this program AT&T has invested $200 billion with businesses and enterprises owned by minorities, women, service-disabled veterans, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities in the last 52 years. In 2020 alone, our supplier diversity spend was $13.2 billion, which represented 24.5% of our total spend.
The supplier diversity program not only gives diverse business owners an opportunity but allows them to provide opportunities for others. Our supplier, Betty Manetta, the President and CEO of Argent Associates, is a prime example of this. Betty started as an AT&T employee, but then went down the path of entrepreneurship. AT&T knew what she was capable of and she signed one of her company’s first contracts with us nearly 24 years ago. Today, her multi-million-dollar company creates innovative supply chain solutions while keeping its commitment to environmental protection. Betty has leveraged her opportunity and success by providing jobs and training to underserved and underrepresented groups within her local communities.
Our Chief Diversity and Development Officer, Corey Anthony, recently sat down with Betty and Rachel Kutz, Vice President of Consumer Supply Chain and Global Logistics at AT&T, to talk about their career journeys as women in a male dominated field and the power of the AT&T supplier diversity program. They also discuss the digital divide and how access to connectivity plays a role in economic opportunity within the communities. Hear more about the impact supply chain is making here:
In our continuing efforts to advance equality, AT&T will work with women leaders like these to ensure they have access to the opportunities and resources needed to succeed. It’s going to take all of us working together to find ways to break down the barriers in order to pave the way for women leaders and entrepreneurs; our future depends on it.