CenterPoint Energy honors Legal team’s MWBE efforts

CenterPoint Energy’s efforts to increase the amount of work contracted to diverse law firms

earned honors recently for its Legal department’s supplier diversity team.

The company’s president and CEO, Scott Prochazka, presented awards to the team and to Jason Ryan, vice president of Regulatory and Government Affairs, for their continuing initiative. Houston-based CenterPoint Energy has increased its participation in NAMWOLF and hosted a reception in conjunction with the national NAMWOLF conference held in Houston in September.

“While we have much to be proud of, we also have plenty of room to do even better,” Prochazka, president and CEO, told an audience watching in person and via live stream at the company’s annual Supplier Diversity Recognition Breakfast.

The Legal Department created its supplier diversity team after CenterPoint Energy’s general counsel, Dana O’Brien, began seeking ways for her department to support the company’s overall efforts to increase its work with minority- and women-owned suppliers. She asked Ryan, a member of the company’s Supplier Diversity Council, to assemble a team of attorneys with the mission to increase the department’s use of diverse law firms and suppliers.

The Supplier Diversity Task Force was formed in late 2015 and is chaired by Stephanie Hammons in Little Rock, Ark. It includes team members Stephany Lin-Abney and Alice Adam in Houston, and Steven Clay in Minneapolis. Ryan and Hammons attended the 2016 NAMWOLF Business Meeting in New Orleans and were impressed by the group and its passion for legal diversity.

As the task force began to develop goals and set about increasing the Legal Department’s spend on MWBE firms, they invited NAMWOLF Chief Executive Officer Joel Stern to speak with their department. By the end of 2016, the task force had increased CenterPoint Energy’s spend on MWBE law firms and suppliers from 1 percent to 10 percent.

“More than any one product or service, our diverse suppliers are delivering value every day,” Prochazka said at the awards event. “They have our business because they earn it – through competitive pricing, innovative solutions, quality service and personal attention. All they ask for is a level playing field and a fair opportunity to show what they can do.”

In addition to being recognized for its leadership in working with MWBEs, CenterPoint Energy has a second-tier program in which prime suppliers are required to actively support supplier diversity.

Among the company’s achievements in 2016, Prochazka noted that CNP conducted more than $200 million worth of business with certified MWBEs and spent more than $800 million with small businesses. He added that the company achieved an 11.7 spend percentage with MWBEs in 2016 and has set a stretch goal of 13 percent for this year.

Ryan, pictured at the event with Prochazka, received a Distinguished Service Award. Among the diverse suppliers honored was the Austin law firm Parsley Coffin Renner LLC. CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution and energy services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. The company also owns a 54.1 percent limited partner interest in Enable Midstream Partners, a publicly traded master limited partnership it jointly controls with OGE Energy Corp., which owns, operates and develops natural gas and crude oil infrastructure assets. With more than 7,700 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 140 years.