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Supplier diversity effort hits highest annual total ever

Supplier Diversity

Last year, Xcel Energy purchased nearly $650 million in goods and services from diverse suppliers – its highest annual total ever. We estimate our supplier diversity program supported nearly 18,000 jobs in 2020 and provided more than $900 million in employee earnings at those companies.

“We have always believed that it’s in our best interest to encourage a broad base of supplier relationships,” said Jim Garness, manager of Supplier Diversity. “That’s why for more than two decades, we have actively encouraged diverse suppliers to participate in our procurement process.”

That process now includes businesses owned by women or veterans or whose owners are disabled, racially or ethnically diverse or part of the LGBTQ community. Considering the cumulative revenues of all businesses impacted, last year the program produced a total economic impact of $2.5 billion across the economy, he said.

Two examples of diverse suppliers doing business with Xcel Energy operate in the information technology world. Here’s a quick snapshot of both companies and how they help support Xcel Energy’s mission to its customers and other stakeholders.

SHI International Corp., based in Somerset, N.J., has worked with Xcel Energy since 1999 – starting a productive working relationship even before Y2K, for those who remember that curious technological challenge.

SHI started up a decade before when it was founded by Thai Lee as a software reseller. Lee later added hardware and related services to the company’s offerings, and she has kept SHI a private venture since its founding – and made it one of the largest minority- and woman-owned business enterprises in the United States.

SHI handles all Microsoft software and related licenses for Xcel Energy – a big carry in and of itself, said Steve Simard, SHI enterprise account executive.

“We track all license agreements and provide on-time renewals,” he said. “This helps with budgeting, the consolidation of license agreements and saves Xcel Energy money.”

SHI helps Xcel Energy with hundreds of various software license purchases, along with hardware such as servers and networking equipment, he said. SHI also provides professional services, including one consolidation project that helped save Xcel Energy a significant amount of money on its overall data-storage costs.

“We serve as an extension of your technical teams to help make software adoption as seamless as possible,” Simard said. “We provide Xcel Energy with the resources it needs to develop complex technology solutions that can solve critical business objectives and provide a better user experience.”

World Wide Technology (WWT), based in St. Louis, also is one of the largest minority-owned businesses in the United States. Dave Steward, chairman, and Jim Kavanaugh, CEO, founded the firm in 1990, and it remains privately held.

WWT works as a third-party advisor to help Xcel Energy make the right IT investments for its operations and customers, said Danny Reyes, client manager with WWT. This is particularly important for hardware purchases and service contracts for large IT manufacturers such as Dell and Cisco. WWT even holds workshops to help Xcel Energy research information technology that the company is exploring.

“We help Xcel Energy create solutions and make strategic decisions in the IT world,” Reyes said. “We understand the company’s culture and where it is headed from an IT perspective. Our goal is to help Xcel Energy get there with fewer costs and less stress.”

Garness said he is glad both companies are on board and are helping Xcel Energy mirror the population mix it serves with electric and natural gas service from a diverse-supplier perspective.

“By doing business with diverse suppliers like SHI and WWT, we expand our supply-chain lines here at Xcel Energy, while helping build up communities and providing opportunities for everyone to participate and prosper,” Garness said. “And we hope to create a multiplier effect that results in additional jobs across the economy and in our communities – an effect that we also hope continues to promote diversity across the spectrum.”