AT&T wants more women-owned businesses to target new technologies

Rachel Kutz is the vice president of supplier diversity at AT&T. Kutz sat down wtih Light Reading to give her thoughts on her company’s expanding supplier diversity program and discuss future opportunities for small and diverse businesses.

“As of 2015, it spent $13.7 billion, or 24% of its total supplier spend, with certified diverse suppliers. Five percent of that spend went to women-owned businesses.” While 2016 numbers have not been released due to the company’s merger with DirecTV, it is safe to say that AT&T will be able to connect with even more diverse and small businesses.

But there is still a glaring issue Kutz wants solved.

In today’s small and diverse business market, it is easy to meet a company owned by a minority or woman. It is difficult, however, finding a qualified diverse business meeting expectations in certain technological areas. According to the article “Of those businesses that do exist and are certified, Kutz says that they tend to be clustered in certain commodity technology areas, such as IT, logistics, construction, advertising and marketing. With AT&T’s move to virtualization and software-defined networking, finding suppliers that meet its evolving needs is hard.”

Oddly Kutz never gets into the specifics of tech AT&T is looking for, but she does affirm the opportunity available to women-owned businesses who offer new and exciting technology. It’s all about being disruptive and AT&T is looking for innovative companies that matches that trend. Winning business from the company is a long process however. “To catch AT&T’s attention, however, these suppliers will also have to capture the interest of AT&T’s biggest existing suppliers. AT&T does most of its business with a few big names like Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM).” This is common among large corporations who look to purchase from proven suppliers rather than startups.

Still opportunities are there for those suppliers who can penetrate the advancing technology market. Easier said then done of course, but the opportunities are there.