Throughout 2023, WBENC is recognizing and celebrating WBEs who have demonstrated remarkable resilience and capacity to reinvent themselves. The 2023 WBE Stars are being honored for perseverance and excellence through reinvention and innovation, despite the unprecedented challenges of recent years.
Meet Liz Whitehead, CEO of Diversity Masterminds® and 12PointFive. Liz is a dedicated professional who adapted to the absence of physical conferences by helping her clients develop virtual business strategies that resonate during challenging times.
Witness Liz’s resilience and stay tuned for our 2023 WBENC Stars article series throughout 2023!
Each year, WBENC presents 14 women business owners with the prestigious Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Star Award, the nation’s premier recognition for excellence among certified women-owned businesses, honoring female owners for their leadership skills, business success, and ability to serve as an inspiration to others.
Meet Liz Whitehead, CEO of Diversity Masterminds® and 12PointFive.
Liz is a business development consultant that guides business owners so they can leverage supplier diversity networks, have more productive conversations, and win new business. She started her own business in May 2017 because she had worked for nearly two decades supporting diverse entrepreneurs connecting with large companies and realized she had unique knowledge and experience to connect business owners with large corporate contacts and organize and structure their business development processes. Her business also became WBENC-Certified in 2017!
Liz plays a crucial role in her clients’ preparation for National and Regional conferences and events, offering tailored business development strategies for virtual engagement in the absence of physical gatherings. Her messaging focuses on resonating with clients during challenging times, showcasing her adaptability and client-centric approach.
Forging New Paths
In 2019, Liz co-launched Diversity Masterminds®, an online course aimed at leveraging certification alongside her WBE business partner, Heather Cox. Over the past two years, they expanded the course into an on-demand format, reaching a broader audience of WBEs seeking to maximize their certification. Additionally, they initiated the Business UNusual video series, shedding light on resilience in times of unconventional business challenges. Through interviews with fellow diverse business owners, they provide valuable tips and inspiration, exemplifying Liz’s commitment to empowering her audience.
Liz also extended her impact by engaging with the WBENC network, participating in virtual events hosted by RPOs like WBCS, WBEC West, WBEC Pacific, and WBEC Florida. This proactive networking allowed her to guide new clients, enhancing their involvement with WBENC and their respective RPOs. Recently, Liz introduced TouchPoint, a tool designed to keep diverse business owners informed about their key corporate targets. This ensures they seize opportunities to transform contacts into meaningful connections, aligning with her overarching objective of democratizing access to the benefits of certification and supplier diversity networks for a wide spectrum of diverse suppliers.
“Resiliency is having the strength to keep going and the vulnerability to recognize when you need to make a change. Recognizing that your vision is strong and unwavering but the path to get there may not look how you planned.”
When and how was your business started?
I started my own business in May of 2017 because I had worked for nearly two decades supporting diverse entrepreneurs connecting with large companies. I realized that I had unique knowledge and experience to connect business owners with large corporate contacts, and to organize and structure their business development processes. I incorporated and certified my company in that same year.
What does resiliency mean to you? How do you practice resiliency as a woman leading a business?
Resiliency is having the strength to keep going and the vulnerability to recognize when you need to make a change—recognizing that your vision is strong and unwavering but the path to get there may not look how you planned.
What is a challenge or opportunity your business faced because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and how did you face it?
Many of my clients rely on me to prepare them for National and Regional conferences and events—in the absence of those events, I helped them cultivate business development strategies that would allow them to stay in touch with clients virtually, with messaging that would resonate during difficult times.
In 2019 I launched Diversity Masterminds®, an online course to leverage certification with my WBE business partner Heather Cox. Over the last two years, we launched a fully on-demand course to reach even more WBEs looking to leverage their certification, and they started their Business UNusual video series about resilience when business UNusual becomes business as usual. They interview other diverse business owners to provide tips and inspiration to their audience.
Also, I tapped into WBENC’s national network by attending and speaking at regional partner organization events for WBCS, WBEC West, WBEC Pacific, and WBEC Florida when events went virtual. I was able to grow my network and guide new clients whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise to increase their engagement with WBENC and their RPOs.
What have you learned about yourself as a leader from mentoring or coaching others?
I’ve learned that, as a leader, showing is always better than telling. Also, that too much information is the same as no information. In order to fully absorb a lesson or skill, people need just the information they need, when they need it, in a way that they can action it. That critical piece led to the creation of the Diversity Masterminds® online course and the success of my consulting program.
What do you view as benefits of being part of the WBENC network? How has your company grown and changed since its inception and since becoming certified?
I have attended every national conference that has taken place since getting certified (and nearly every one before that). I serve on the WBENC Forum on the Domestic Team and participated in dozens of Forum webinars and educational events including speaking during one of the webinars entitled Shift Happens, about shifts business owners need to make during difficult times.
Locally, I serve on the WBEC DMV Forum as well as the Certification Committee and have hosted several WBEC webinars. When WBEC DMV coordinated with the DC Women’s Business Center, I not only volunteered as a mentor for the 6-week session but coordinated my fellow WBEs to participate as well. I’m now a mentor for the SAGE Program.
Through the WBENC network, I’ve been able to grow and expand my client base nationally, create a joint venture with another WBE, and release new products and services based on what corporate members want to see from certified suppliers.
What guiding words would you like to share with a newly certified WBE who is looking to get involved in the WBENC community?
The best way to get involved is to showcase your strengths. What can you offer to your fellow WBEs and how can you get the word out? If you come to the network from a place of giving, what you give will come back to you tenfold.
What areas of innovation do you foresee for women entrepreneurs over the next few years?
Automation is going to be key for business owners. ChatGPT, AI, and other services are going to allow business owners to maximize the productivity of their companies and staffs.
Environmental and social sustainability, and being able to communicate those goals and commitments is going to be crucial for business owners to engage their customers and employees.
Liz Whitehead is the CEO of Diversity Masterminds® and 12PointFive. Liz is a business development consultant that guides business owners so they can leverage supplier diversity networks, have more productive conversations, and win new business. She started her own business in May 2017 because she had worked for nearly two decades supporting diverse entrepreneurs connecting with large companies and realized she had unique knowledge and experience to connect business owners with large corporate contacts and organize and structure their business development processes. Her business also became WBENC-Certified in 2017!
Liz is a dedicated member of both the Women’s Enterprise National Forum and the WBEC DMV Forum.