Black Commerce Organizations Come Out In Support Of AT&T Merger

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This past week the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) and the United States Black Chamber (USBCI) joined forces with a host of other organizations in support of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.

In their June 20th letter to the Federal Communications Commission the groups said,

“We urge the FCC to support the AT&T- T-Mobile merger given that the potential benefits of enhanced coverage and access to next generation wireless broadband service will create new opportunities to expand real equality across our society.”

As apparent from my other postings, I am also a supporter of this acquisition for many reasons. Most notably and mentioned above, the approved merger will mean the expansion of high speed internet service to 55 million more Americans. As a long time advocate of digital equality I could not be happier about the merger as well as the increased show of support for AT&T.

NBCC and USBCI, whose like missions are to support black enterprise and economic growth, also addressed the positive economics associated with the merger.

“Our greatest opportunity for substantial and sustainable growth in jobs and business expansion lies in the digital sector.”

This substantial and sustainable growth the groups spoke to include an estimated *96,000 new jobs that will be created if the merger is approved. In this economy we can’t afford to say no to job creation opportunities.

More specific to the groups’ mission statements, they noted their support for AT&T is also a result of the corporation’s “demonstrated record of diversity in hiring, promotions and procurement.”

As evidence, just this year AT&T was ranked #2 in Top 50 List of America’s Top Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities. The list, published by DiversityBusiness.com each year, signified the over $9.2 billion AT&T spent with diverse suppliers in 2010 alone. That equals 18.8% of the company’s total procurement spend.

Marianne Strobel, Executive Director, Supplier Diversity, AT&T, said, “in 2010 we endeavored to increase our spend levels with diverse suppliers even at a time of budget reductions. In fact, we were able to increase our diverse spend by 34 percent.”

It’s so easy for corporations to use current economics as an excuse to ignore minority businesses, but obviously AT&T is a different kind of employer. I’m with NBCC and USBCI when they say,

“We are confident that a combined AT&T and T-Mobile will establish an industry standard for a diverse and equitable work place as well as expand AT&T’s best practices for supplier diversity.”

I am also confident that with the approval of the FCC, a significant portion of AT&T’s proposed merger investment of $8 billion will no doubt go to creating quality jobs and business opportunities for African Americans and other people of color.

*as noted in a study by the Communications Workers of America

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