The WBENC 2022 National Conference was nothing short of powerful for supplier diversity professionals, women business owners and key representatives of strategic partner organizations.
TOGETHER AGAIN in Atlanta, Georgia, the expansive network took full advantage of over 300,000 square feet of dynamic interaction and innovation sharing over the course of three days in the WBENC Arena. WBENC recognizes the National Conference Co-chairs, Accenture, Accel, AT&T, ALOM, The Coca Cola Company, Boldhaus, UPS, and Ampcus, for contributing to the future-forward sessions, networking, and celebrations that occurred over the three-day event.
On Tuesday, June 7th, the event began as Pamela Prince-Eason, President and CEO of WBENC, stood on stage and welcomed thousands of attendees that occupied the Georgia Ballroom at the Georgia World Congress Center. The crowd, zealous and eager, buzzed around the ballroom after completing their daily health screenings, as it’d been three years since they were able to attend a WBENC National Conference.
The kickoff featured a plethora of resources to aid attendees while navigating the all NEW WBENC Arena: an extensive layout of stages and halls and easily accessible applications to acquire the schedule over the course of the three-day event. Brimming with excitement, Eason honored the 14 Regional Partner Organizations and other strategic partners that contribute to executing certification and programming throughout the country.
The America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises: Resiliency Edition for 2021-2022 were officially announced at the opening ceremony. The WBENC Top Corporation award honors those corporations who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to the inclusion of women-owned businesses in their supply chains. Eason then welcomed James O. Etheredge, CEO of Accenture North America, on stage to officially launch the conference with the first Fireside Chat.
Soon after, thousands of attendees flooded the floor of the WBENC Arena ready to make connections and do business. The WBENC Arena reimagined the traditional expo booth format, allowing for connections in each hall throughout the three days of the conference. Meanwhile, stage sessions and table topics were held simultaneously, creating a dynamic ecosystem of networking, education, connection and inspiration at every moment.
The Reinvisioned WBENC Arena
The 2022 WBENC National Conference featured more than 75 sessions of industry-specific topics from lead experts on stages and in table clusters. With more than 10 industry centers and groundbreaking speakers, innovative practices were highlighted at every turn, for every type of attendee.
Inspiring keynotes, including additional Fireside Chats with Kellogg’s CPO Shelly Van Treeck and Kelley Cornish, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer for Diverse Segments, Representation, and Inclusion at Wells Fargo created learning opportunities for business owners and other professionals while instilling them with knowledge to develop as leaders and change-makers.
Business opportunity generation peaked with over 300 exhibitors for the 2022 National Conference. For exhibitors, the arena floor became unparalleled opportunity to showcase their brand, identify potential suppliers or new purchasers, and expand their network. Not only did they create a lasting impression and generate brand awareness with corporate members and WBEs face-to-face but also had the opportunity to be inspired by similar businesses and speakers, right in their Arena area.
The 2022 National Conference also boasted the largest WBENC Meet & Greet ever, hosting over 1, WBEs and 181 corporations in a two-day networking event for WBEs and corporate members, which featured a series of 25-minute rotating sessions with companies of the WBEs’ choice.
Celebrating the 25th Anniversary TOGETHER!
The Thursday celebration and dinner wrapped up the three-day event and thousands gathered in the ballroom to celebrate the first in-person 2022 WBENC National Conference in three years and the 25th Anniversary of WBENC!
This wasn’t your typical conference closing dinner – it was a true celebration and party, complete with live entertainment of dueling pianos, hit songs, an American Song Contest contestant Alisabeth Von Presley and an exclusive guest appearance by award-winning country star, author and diversity and inclusion leader, Chely Wright.
WBENC presented the William J. Alcorn Award to Debbie Hurst, President & CEO of WBEC Southwest from 1997 until December 2021, for exemplary leadership contributions in support of the WBENC mission to open the doors of opportunity in corporate contracting to certified Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs). Debbie’s leadership, creativity, and determination to achieve success for WBEs and corporations has been and continues to be a force in the growth and development of the Women’s Business Council Southwest and WBENC.
Michael Robinson received the Arnice Lamb Supplier Diversity Professional Excellence Award, a new WBENC Award that will be given from time to time by this network to individuals who demonstrate the highest levels of excellence as Supplier Diversity professionals. Michael Robinson recently retired from his position as Program Director of Global Supplier Diversity with IBM, a Hall of Fame Top Corporation, as well as Second Vice Chair & Chair, Global Services & Programs Committee of the WBENC Board of Directors.
The 25th Anniversary Women of Distinction, were also honored and assembled on stage for a once-in-a-lifetime photo-op. These prestigious women leaders have demonstrated a deep commitment to WBENC and to breaking down barriers for women-owned businesses in the corporate and government supply chains, were also honored and assembled on stage for a once-in-a-lifetime photo-op.
Then, before turning to more entertainment, WBENC recognized and applauded America’s Top Corporations for 2021-2022 Hall of Fame. These companies set the highest standards and a sustained commitment to leading practices and innovation in their support for women-owned businesses and have demonstrated exceptional leadership in the WBENC community.
The support and commitment of corporate members and WBEs created an unforgettable three-day event for attendees to gather and transcend virtual meetings and communication. Through the 2022 WBENC National Conference, all attendees were able to BE BOLD by doing business and connecting with a dynamic and diverse network.