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2018 WBENC national conference: awards, networking and matchmaking

New retail logo for WBE-made products makes its debut

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC, www.wbenc.org) staged its 2018 National Conference and Business Fair in Philadelphia from June 23-25. The event drew more than 3,300 attendees, including 325 corporate and woman-owned business enterprise (WBE) exhibitors.

WBENC was founded in 1997. Its third-party certification of businesses owned and operated by women is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations, and by many states, cities and other entities. There are currently more than 12,000 certified WBEs, and more than 650 WBENC member organizations. WBENC and its fourteen regional partner organizations are active throughout the year; the annual conference and business fair is the organization’s biggest event.

Awards and recognition
Awards for corporate leaders are a tradition at the national conference. This year’s top recognition, the William J. Alcorn award, went to Kathryn “Kathy” Homeyer, director of supplier diversity at UPS. Alcorn, the retired director of supplier diversity for JCPenney, presented the award to Homeyer and called her an “extraordinary leader.” Homeyer has led supplier diversity at UPS since 2002, and has received a number of awards from regional and national organizations for her work. She is a member of the WBENC board of directors and has been active with several regional partner organizations.

Additional corporate awards went to Eyvon C. Austin, global supplier diversity director at the Coca-Cola Company, and Larry W. Caldwell, VP for IT and corporate services procurement at PepsiCo.

Networking and matchmaking
Networking among WBEs and between WBEs and potential customers is the heart of the WBENC national conference. At the one-day business fair, WBEs can sign up for one-on-one “matchmakers” that give them focused time with top procurement and supplier diversity representatives of WBENC corporate members. This year, WBENC arranged a record 1,400 meetings at the conference.

A new ID for WBE-made products
At the Wednesday conference luncheon, a new logo to identify products made by certified WBEs made its debut. The logo was developed by WBENC, WEConnect International (weconnectinternational.org) and Walmart as an effort to increase consumer recognition of products made by women-owned companies certified by WBENC and/or WEConnect International. Walmart’s collaboration on the project is an element of the company’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment initiative, launched in 2011. Walmart will have products on its store shelves with the new women-owned business logo beginning this fall.

Walmart has also committed to sourcing $20 billion from women for its U.S. business, and to double its sourcing from women internationally by the end of 2016. “At Walmart we are committed to empowering women and impacting women-owned businesses around the world, and so are our customers. In fact, we recently conducted a survey that found 90 percent of female customers in the U.S. would go out of their way to purchase products from women, believing they would offer higher quality,” said MiKaela Wardlaw Lemmon, senior director of Women’s Economic Empowerment at Walmart.

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