Did you know that less than 5% of corporate and government contracts are awarded to women-owned businesses? This past week, the core HelloInfo team was fortunate to attend and exhibit at the 2021 Women Business Enterprises (WBE) Conference, aptly titled Moving Forward Together. As an online-only event, it was remarkable to see hundreds of women entrepreneurs and corporate and government organizations come together. and create a close, connected, educational, and inspirational environment, with a view to our collective future together. In this week’s blog post, we discuss the importance of global conglomerates supporting women-owned businesses, and share some highlights and insights gained from this conference, as we all work together to increase the percentage of contracts that are awarded to women-owned businesses.
Why WBE Canada and WBENC are important
WBE Canada is a national partner of the large US non-profit, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Together, these two organizations certify more than 13 million women-owned businesses across North America, and work to build connections between women-owned businesses and corporate/government buyers. The organizations support WBEs (pronounced wee-bees!) in crossing supplier barriers and in promoting diversification and inclusivity of supply chains, and are joined by many other organizations (such as WeConnect) that are working together to ensure the diversification of supply chains. Today, 95% of Fortune 500 companies have a supplier diversity program, and WBE Canada has been instrumental in opening new doors for HelloInfo to make connections and market our services to some of the world’s most influential organizations.
To become formally recognized as a WBE, HelloInfo had to undertake a rigorous certification process, ensuring that we indeed are owned and managed independently by women. Included in these criteria are that:
- The women owners of HelloInfo (Tanya and Nicolle, for those of you just joining us) are indispensable to the business’ potential success.
- The women owners have the ability to perform in our areas of expertise without substantial reliance upon finances and resources of non-women-owned businesses and enterprises.
- The women owners control all major decisions affecting the business.
Momentum is growing with corporate and government allies
One just has to look at the list of impressive, diversity-focused organizations that attended the 2021 WBE Conference to understand the change that is afoot on this continent. BMO, Bell, IBM, Magna, GM, Telus, BDC, RBC, Accenture, EDC, and Toyota are only some of the companies that are supporting women-owned businesses by working to purchase their products and services. These companies attend the conference to network, participate in pitch presentations, engage in panel discussions and presentations, connect with new potential suppliers, and more. Some highlights from our conference experiences with these companies include:
- Whitney McWade from BMO shared the company’s impactful video “Jane’s Story” as part of her Making Impact Through Sustainability presentation, and encouraged women entrepreneurs not to get stuck in a generational narrative, and instead encouraged us to remember to keep pushing forward for progress. If you haven’t seen Jane’s Story before, we encourage you to watch!
- Carolyn Stern, President and CEO of the EI Experience and Zamira Aliko from EY ran an engaging knowledge pod on Emotional Intelligence and how EI is “Today’s Leadership Superpower.” This resonated with us at HelloInfo, as we all strive each day to tune into our emotions to connect with our colleagues, clients, and boost our productivity and engagement.
- At the end of Day 1, we participated in the networking event Trivia Mayhem, which consisted of five rounds of trivia. And HelloInfo co-founder Tanya won the entire event!
- At the keynote on Day 2 presented by Monica James from BDC and Jennifer Ménard- Shand from Staff Shot Inc, Jennifer shared the captivating and inspiring story of her journey as a First Nations Ojibwe female entrepreneur. Her story was supplemented with Monica’s experiences as a Cree woman who also leads BDC’s national strategy to support Indigenous entrepreneurs. Together, the two reminded us all to turn our minds regularly to the champions who have cleared our paths before us.
Our WBE participation and certification is important to many of our clients
HelloInfo clients appreciate the leadership and path that we are taking to proudly champion ourselves, and other women-owned, and minority-owned businesses. By being certified by this widely recognized body, we support our clients in their efforts to not only diversify their supply chain, but we also support and enable them to participate in “Moving Forward Together” into the next era of business operations and purchasing strategy. We are so very proud to be part of this 13 million + strong community of intelligent, motivated, women entrepreneurs!
If you, and/or your organization are looking to take action and join the fast-growing network of companies that are diversifying their supplier lists, we would be happy to meet with you. Schedule a call with us!