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Press Release

Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Announces New List of 18 "America's Top Corporations for Women's Business Enterprises"

18 Corporations Attain World-Class Status in Supplier Diversity

Washington, DC Mar 23, 2006 -

In its role as the leading advocate for women’s business enterprises (WBEs) as suppliers to the nation’s corporations, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) today announced its annual listing of America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises.  

The 2005 award recognizes 18 corporations, the largest list to date in the award’s seven-year history.  Presented at a special ceremony today in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House, America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises is the only award honoring corporations for their world-class supplier diversity programs offering equal access for WBEs in competing for, and winning, corporate contracts for goods and services. The corporations are:

  • Altria Group, Inc.
  • AT&T Inc. (formerly SBC Communications, Inc.)
  • Bank of America
  • BellSouth Corporation
  • Cendant Car Rental Group
  • CenterPoint Energy
  • Chevron Corporation
  • Eastman Kodak Company
  • IBM Corporation
  • Merrill Lynch
  • Office Depot
  • PepsiCo, Inc.
  • Pfizer Inc.
  • Shell Oil Company
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • TXU Corp.
  • UPS
  • Verizon

“These extraordinary companies are innovators who understand that diversity has to be a company-wide commitment that is ingrained in the corporate culture.  They have gone beyond HR diversity and Marketing diversity and they perceive the business case for contracting with quality women’s businesses.” said Susan Phillips Bari, President and Founding Architect of WBENC. 

WBENC is the only organization that brings together both women’s business enterprises and corporations towards the mutual goal of improving marketing opportunities for talented women-owned businesses as vendors and suppliers to the nation’s top corporations.

The ceremony will be followed that evening by the 2006 Salute to Women's Business Enterprises: The Enterprising Economy with Mistress of Ceremonies Candy Crowley, CNN’s award winning senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C.  Over 800 leaders from the government, corporate and entrepreneurial arenas will gather to honor the recipients at the National Building Museum, Washington, DC.

Powerful Growth of Women’s Businesses
Underscoring the contribution of these women’s business enterprises is data from a report based upon the Census Bureau's 2002 survey of 1.9 million business owners, showing that the number of women-owned businesses, many of them one-person enterprises, grew at twice the national rate for all private companies from 1997 to 2002. 

The report showed that the number of women-owned businesses grew by 20 percent from 1997 to 2002, while the number for men grew 16 percent. It defines women-owned businesses as those in which women own at least a 51 percent interest and manage and control their companies. The report identified 6.5 million firms with female owners. About 13.2 million firms were owned by men, and 2.7 million firms were owned equally by men and women.

In addition to the March 23rd celebrations, WBENC provides resources and business-building matchmaking and networking opportunities for corporations and women’s business enterprises. 

WBENC will present its annual conference and business fair, Women in Business 2006: Sharing the Vision, Contacts to Contracts, on June 26-29, in Miami, Florida.  The organization is broadening the scope and length of the nation’s largest conference and business fair for WBEs to meet the sophisticated needs of 5,500 -plus WBENC-certified WBEs.

The conference will feature extraordinary speakers such as Janet Reno, Former United States Attorney General and Melanie Sabelhaus, Former Deputy Administrator, United States Small Business Administration, who are scheduled to headline the groundbreaking Women’s Leadership Forum panel, “Using Your Business Clout in Politics,” moderated by Barbara Kasoff, President and Chief Executive Officer, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP).  Other speakers include renowned futurist Edie Weiner, President of President, Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc. and co-author with Arnold Brown of FutureThink: How to Think Clearly in a Time of Change; and Patricia de Stacy Harrison, President and  CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

About the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC):

  • Founded in 1997, WBENC is the nation’s leading third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women, and the leading advocate of women’s business enterprises (WBEs) as suppliers to corporate America.
  • The average WBENC certified company has revenues of $7.5M, 49 employees and 13 years of experience.
  • More than 60 WBE firms have revenues in excess of $100M, and six certified WBE companies have revenues in excess of $1 billion.
  • More than 200 US corporations are active members of WBENC and representatives of 36 corporations sit on the WBENC Board of Directors, along with nine representatives of its partner organizations and nine WBEs.
  • WBENC certification is accepted by more than 700 corporations, representing America’s most prestigious brands, as well as government entities at the state, local and Federal levels.
  • WBENC also has developed several highly regarded initiatives for recognizing excellence in corporate supplier diversity targeting WBEs (America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises, The WBENC Applause Awards) and women’s business enterprises (WBENC’s Woman-Owned Business Stars).
  • WEBuy@wbenc.org is an online marketplace where corporations and government agencies, as well as WBEs, post RFPs, sources sought, and RFIs.
  • WBENC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks and accepts donations from corporations, foundations and individuals that support its mission and programs.
  • WBENCLink is an Internet database, accessed by WBENC corporate members and certified women's business enterprises (WBEs), which contains information on certified women's businesses for purchasing managers nationwide.
For more information, contact info@wbenc.org or visit our website at www.wbenc.org.

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