It’s been a busy fall at WBENC. Between planning for our 2018 signature events, launching new programs like the Tuck-WBENC Strategic Growth Program and the WBENC Energy Executive Program, and strategizing with our constituents on the future of WBENC, we are really taking advantage of the momentum from our 20th anniversary and letting that propel us into what is sure to be an amazing 2018!
One thing that struck me recently is how much we have been truly embracing and living our theme: Join Forces. Succeed Together. Fostering diversity in business is a goal we share with several of our strategic partner organizations, including the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC), and the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN), the US Veterans Chamber of Commerce (USVCC), among others. Coming together with those partners has demonstrated that we have so much to gain collectively by learning from each other, collaborating, sharing best practices, reflecting on our challenges, and celebrating our wins.
In August, I learned so much at USBLN’s Annual National Conference & Expo in Orlando. If you are unfamiliar, the USBLN focuses on sharing and developing proven strategies for including people with disabilities in the workplace and supply chain, including through the certification of disability-owned business enterprises (DOBEs). I was honored to participate in a fascinating panel discussion on how we can come together to raise the profile of diverse suppliers. I also came back to the WBENC office armed with new tools and ideas that we can use to help make our events and initiatives more inclusive for those with disabilities.
Also in August, Candace Waterman, WBENC’s VP of Certification and Program Operations, went back to Las Vegas to join NGLCC in celebrating 15 years of LGBT business success at their annual International Business and Leadership Conference. By all accounts, the energy and excitement at the event was infectious, and I’m so excited to see NGLCC continue to grow and expand opportunities for LGBT-owned businesses.
In October, I enjoyed connecting with many old friends (and meeting new ones!) at the NMSDC Conference in Detroit – also the site of our 2018 National Conference & Business Fair. The NMSDC Conference and Business Opportunity Exchange is the nation’s premier forum on minority supplier development. It’s very rewarding to spend time with people so dedicated to value and economic growth. During the conference, I participated in a panel discussion on the future of supplier diversity with leadership from NGLCC, NMSDC and NVBDC, and I couldn’t agree more with NVBDC’s sentiment posted on Twitter later that day: “At the end of the day, we are stronger when we present a united front and support one another.”
That’s what our theme – Join Forces. Succeed Together. – is all about!
But without question, the best example of coming together has been the corporations and WBEs who have rallied to support those impacted by the tragic hurricanes and flooding in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico, and the wildfires in California. A huge thank you from the bottom of my heart for stepping up to help those in need, and our continued well wishes and support to those still affected.
We are very optimistic as we head into the last two months of our 20th anniversary year, in large part because of the strong partnerships with our allies in promoting diversity in business. We’re particularly excited about a new initiative we’ll be launching very soon, in collaboration with one of our Corporate Members, The Coca Cola Company. I can’t give it away yet, but I will leave you with this inspiring story as a hint.
WBENC President and CEO