Next week the WBENC network will come together at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada for the National Conference & Business Fair, the largest conference of its kind for women business owners in the U.S. We will be looking back at memorable milestones and leaders from the past 20 years as well as looking to a future full of endless possibilities for us to advance the vision and mission of WBENC.
A representative from one of our National Conference & Business Fair Corporate Member Presenting Sponsors, Kenyatta Lewis, Executive Director of Supplier Diversity, MGM Resorts International, shares how she has observed WBENC and the marketplace grow over the years, and what we can do together to continue to lead the development of women business leaders across the nation.
Q: As our numbers of Certified Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) has grown to more than 14,000, we expect a record-breaking attendance at this year’s conference. Can you speak to the enduring value of an inclusive supply chain and the value of WBENC Certification?
A: MGM Resorts International celebrates the growth of certified WBEs with WBENC. As the fastest-growing business segment, certified WBEs make up over 43 percent of MGM Resorts’ diversity spend, which is vital to our continued success as the leading global hospitality company.
Our engagement process impacts not only the individual business, but the economy as a whole. Small and diverse businesses are the economic engine that fuels the American economy. Through our support, we generate a positive multiplier effect that positively impacts businesses, communities, and families.
Q: The National Conference & Business Fair has a lot of dynamic programming and networking opportunities. What is your favorite part of the event—and why?
A: The Business Fair is my favorite event in the conference. There is a lot of energy and excitement throughout the hall as people are anticipating new opportunities. It’s like Christmas Day; I don’t know what I will receive but I’m expecting a positive outcome. I relish the chance to engage with a pool of businesses that can provide innovation, diversification, and quality competition that drive cost savings.
Q: In an organization as large as MGM Resorts International, leadership can take many forms. How have you been an advocate for women leaders over the years? Has it changed as you’ve grown as a leader?
A: MGM Resorts has demonstrated a long-term commitment to providing opportunities to certified WBEs. They have a key place in our operations which is apparent given that they account for 43 percent of our total diversity spend and three percent of our total spend. Several certified WBEs receive more than $1 million in annual revenue from MGM Resorts and have been in our supply base for 10 years or more. We believe our successes with WBE engagement can be attributed to our strategic focus on the training and development of WBEs.
To continue this strategic growth, we launched a mentorship program in 2016. The goal was to provide our advanced WBEs with in-depth assistance in elevating their companies, while expanding their businesses in our industry. Two certified WBEs participated and gained value practices they have implemented in their daily business operations. All of our programs and services are designed to grow, advance, and sustain inclusion within our company’s supply chain.
Learn more about NCBF Co-Chairs and all our sponsors at conf.wbenc.org.