California?s investor-owned utilities say they are striving to promote greater diversity among their ranks and suppliers and are doing a better job of supporting community development projects in poor and minority neighborhoods. However, utilities admitted they need to do better. Census Bureau data show that 46.7 percent of the state?s population is ?White non-Hispanic\/Latino.? Companies, however, have had trouble keeping up with the changing mix in their own hiring, promotion, and contracting activities. Contracts between public utilities and firms owned by minorities, women, and disabled veterans declined from $2.3 billion in 2000 to $1.3 billion in 2003, Marshall Kennedy, California Public Utilities Commission program analyst, said at an October 18 CPUC-sponsored meeting, ?Building Bridges Through Diversity.? ?By 2025, Hispanics will outnumber whites by a significant number,? said Harry Pachon, president of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute. Only 32 percent of California?s population will be white non-Hispanic\/Latino, compared to 43 percent Hispanic\/Latino. California?s Asian population will grow too. ?The overall direction of this should be a real wake-up call to all California businesses as to who their customers and workforces will be,? said CPUC member Carl Wood. ?If they don?t keep up, they?re going to be lost.? Advocacy groups for minority communities lauded the diversity efforts of the commission and those of several utilities but took Sempra Energy to task for refusing to share diversity data with the public. Southern California Edison?recently recognized for its diversity by Fortune Magazine?sees diversity as a ?key factor? for its future business success in a rapidly changing California, said Bob Foster, Edison president. Twenty-seven percent of the company?s directors are minorities, as are 24 percent of its officers. Half of its new employees are minorities and women. Fortune Magazine rated Sempra the third-best company in the nation for Asians, African Americans, and Hispanics, said a company spokesperson. Pacific Gas & Electric?s workforce is composed of 35 percent minorities, according to Dan Richard, senior vice president. Thirty-six percent of the company?s officers ?reflect diversity,? he said, and 50 percent of new hires are diverse. Last year, PG&E gave $60 million in grants, 60 percent of which went to nonprofit organizations geared toward assisting minority and low-income communities. Edison supports community development through donations to various minority groups and some faith-based organizations, Foster said. The CPUC itself is deficient in whites and males in some of its hiring classes, as well as women accountants, Hispanic supervisors, and people with disabilities, reported commission executive director Steve Larson. The agency also is still trying to meet its goal of awarding 25 percent of its contracts to businesses owned by minorities, women, and disabled veterans.