40 Best Companies For Diversity:
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Employer and Consumer Segment. In this position, Kidd, and her team of 15, manages the development and execution of the segment’s mergers and acquisitions, alliance strategy, and governance structure. “This was a completely different path than I thought I was going to be taking in terms of my career.  I’ve always been deal-focused, financial-focused; I’d never really thought about getting on the P&L [profit and loss] side of the business and actually helping to run the business,” Kidd explains. “I never thought about that as an option for me. But it was an incredible opportunity.”

Kidd feels optimistic about future opportunities at Aetna. The average tenure for senior-level executives is 20 years. Plus the company offers talent development programs as well as succession planning to help employees grow and advance throughout the organization. “To come here and work with people in senior-level positions that look like me is a big deal to me,” says Kidd. “There is much more of a meritocracy. You come in, you work hard, you deliver in terms of results, and you are rewarded.”

WGL Holdings:  The Right Contact Equals Big Contracts


Carl Biggs advises suppliers to forget about being a minority firm and focus on being the very best company. Biggs, 57, believes that even though minority status might help you get in the door, your services have to be top-notch to stay there. “What we sell is being a very strong small business. You’ve got to be faster than the larger businesses or you really don’t have anything to offer,” says Biggs, president of Chemical & Engineering Services (C&E), a water engineering company, and supplier to Washington Gas and Light (WGL Holdings) for more than a decade.

Their relationship began in the early ’90s after WGL accepted C&E’s business proposal to provide water treatment products that protect and keep pipes clean for more than 50 years. The company was granted the contract for 15 commercial and industrial locations throughout the Washington, D.C., area. “In the beginning we had a relationship because they liked our product better than anyone else’s and it did the job,” says Biggs. “From that relationship, we have grown.” In 1995 WGL asked C&E to provide 24-hour-a-day engineering services to operate its equipment. Today Biggs’ engineers, many of whom he recruits from the government or the military to stay competitive, are also responsible for temperature regulations for heating. He also focuses on hiring young engineers to help develop their talent.

WGL represents roughly 9% of C&E’s annual revenue of approximately $15 million.  C&E has received a number of awards including a performance award from WGL and a Small Business Administration Award for Excellence.

“Washington Gas has played a vital role in our company’s success and image in our community,” Biggs believes. “Our relationship has allowed C&E to expand into new areas and expand company capabilities.”

Click here for the complete 2010 Black Enterprise 40 Best Companies for Diversity list.

Sonia Alleyne is the Lifestyle editor at Black Enterprise and Annya Lott is the careers editor at Black Enterprise.