ComEd Honors Diverse Suppliers During Inaugural Award Ceremony
Larissa M. Tyler | 4/7/2016, 10:38 a.m.
Anticipation. Appreciation. Excitement. Those three words perfectly describe the atmosphere during ComEd’s 1st Inaugural Supplier Diversity Awards ceremony held Monday at the Bridgeport Art Center located at 1200 W. 35th Street in Chicago.
The extremely well attended event that opened with a lively networking reception followed by a lavish lunch buffet, showcased successful minority, veteran and women-owned suppliers who are helping to drive community and economic development across Northern Illinois.
“Getting to this celebration has been a four year journey that began with the Illinois General Assembly’s vision in the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, the smart grid bill, in 2011,” Anne Pramaggiore, President/CEO of ComEd said to the hundreds of diversity suppliers in the audience.
“This piece of legislation was designed to accomplish three big objectives. First, power grid modernization for improved reliability, customer empowerment and finally positive community impact,” Pramaggiore continued. “You all get what we are trying to accomplish and we would not be here without your unconditional commitment to our goals. So I thank you all for that willingness to take the journey with us.”
The affair which had an “Academy Awards” like format, recognized high-quality suppliers for their performance in areas ranging from job creation to storm support and diversity supplier mentoring, training and development. Award categories included Overall Performance (construction and material / professional services), Diversity Advocacy, Rising Star and Community Partnership.
Deborah M. Sawyer, CEO and founder of Environmental Design International, Inc., who received the Community Partnership award, said that being heavily involved in the community is an integral part of her company’s everyday operations.
“This is something that is actually in our mission statement and in our core values,” Sawyer told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper. “It’s something that is easy to say you have, but then you have to bring it into practice, bring it to life.”
Sawyer also wisely offered advice to minority youth in the community.
“If you really want to have a high paying salary, then you need to think about the sciences, technology and engineering, she said. “In order to have those as your majors you really have to start early and be serious early ….because trying to play catch up is hard.”
Sawyer’s company has been in business for 25 years as of February 2016. She began her career as an environmental scientist for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. She works to develop the interests of young women in science and engineering, and has taught 7th grade students at the Young Women's Leadership Charter School in Chicago
ComEd’s approach to supplier diversity involves building the capacity of potential suppliers so that they can be competitive in the industry not only with ComEd, but with other companies throughout the expanding energy marketplace.
But what exactly is supplier diversity? Is it a form of affirmative action? At least one expert on the subject says that it definitely is not affirmative action.
“It is very important that we understand what supplier diversity is and what it is not, said Ralph Moore of the National Minority Supplier Development Council who served as the event’s keynote speaker. “Supplier diversity is the process of integrating diversity certified suppliers into the execution of corporate strategy. It’s not affirmative action; it’s not a jobs program.”
Because diverse suppliers bring different perspectives and market insights, they are playing an increasingly important role in ComEd’s efforts to meet the growing demand among customers for more choice and personalized services.
“For there to be a diversity supplier awards ceremony must mean that ComEd has an outstanding diversity program, Moore said.”