Edwin A. Guiles, group president for Sempra Energy's California utilities, Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), reported Tuesday on the achievements of the utilities minority-business-procurement and employee-diversity programs.

The hearing, called by the California Public Utilities Commission, was attended by members of the commission, representatives of labor organizations, business and community leaders focused on efforts to improve the state regulatory agency's woman-, minority-, and disabled-veteran's business-enterprise program.

In his remarks, Guiles reported that, last year alone, SoCalGas and SDG&E together spent more than US$175 million -- or 25% of their total purchasing -- with minority-, woman-, and service-disabled-veteran-owned businesses. In addition, natural gas procurement from minority-business enterprises totaled in excess of $120 million.

"We believe that having an employee and supplier base that reflect the communities we serve is not only the right thing to do, but it's a smart business strategy that keeps us in tune with our customers," said Guiles.

In the area of workforce diversity, Guiles reported that virtually half (49%) of its companies' employees are made up of minorities, while nearly 30 percent of officers and managers are African-American, Asian, Hispanic and Native American.

For six years, Sempra Energy has earned a top-five ranking on Fortune Magazine's list of "50 Best Companies for Minorities," one of only two companies to earn such a distinction.

"Workplace and marketplace diversity is a core value of our company and an integral element in our ability to meet our customers' needs," said Guiles.

Sempra Energy's Office of Corporate Diversity Affairs manages workplace diversity at the company. This special entity successfully creates an environment in which employees of all races and ethnic backgrounds are valued and can use their unique perspectives to contribute to the business goals of the company. Sempra Energy also has a dedicated team that manages supplier diversity. The team conducts outreach programs and mentors minority-, woman-, and service-disabled-veteran-owned businesses, helping Sempra Energy reduce costs, bring innovation and provide customers with the best products and services at competitive prices.