WBE Canada Encourages Canada to ‘Move Forward Together’ in post-pandemic economy

For Immediate Release

Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada) held its 12th Annual Conference “Moving Forward Together: Driving Change Through Supplier Diversity” on November 9 and 10, 2021. For the second year, WBE Canada’s annual event was held in a virtual format, to provide a safe space for its Canadian and US business community to connect, learn and network.

This year’s conference featured more than 40 speakers, 30 tradeshow exhibitors, 450 participants, and a variety of training, networking and inspirational sessions. WBE Canada also recognized leaders in supplier diversity and top Canadian WBEs (Women Business Enterprises) during the 2021 Excellence Awards ceremony.

A theme of this year’s conversations was the need for more diversity and inclusion in Canadian supply chains. While leading organizations continue wowing with their progress and impact they’re creating, much more is needed to support the growth of women-owned businesses. The WBE Panel sponsored by BMO clearly showcased that even the most credible female companies with innovative sustainable approaches are still facing biases and challenges when approaching large supply chains in Canada and abroad. Complexity and unnecessary requirements of supply chains are not helping. The C-Suite Panel sponsored by RBC highlighted what top organizations are doing to make a difference through their supply chains. It was refreshing to hear that supplier diversity has made its way to C-Suites in Canada. Exciting updates from public sector supply chains were shared during the Government Panel sponsored by Accenture. Canada needs more leaders in the public sector to open up opportunities in their supply chains for women-owned businesses across the country.

In addition to supplier diversity conversations, this year’s Conference also featured the latest updates on the economy, women entrepreneurship, diversity, leadership and many other topics. The event ended with an inspiring conversation between Monica James, Regional Manager, Client Diversity, BDC and Jennifer Ménard-Shand, Founder & CEO, Staff Shop Inc., an Indigenous-French-Canadian female entrepreneur focusing on the necessity of supporting ALL diverse communities through supplier diversity programs and creation of inclusive supply chains that will mirror the fabric of our diverse country.

60 corporations and governments from Canada and the US participated in this year’s event, the largest number since the humble beginnings of WBE Canada in 2009. While this number is an increase from previous years, it is troubling considering the number of large organizations and government entities in Canada. We still have a long way to go.

After massive disruptions in supply chains and business ecosystem over the past 18 months, our focus during this year’s Conference was on the relevant updates and networking,” said Silvia Pencak, President & CEO, WBE Canada. “It was amazing to see our community come together, support each other, engage in conversations and build new connections. Helping buyers connect with WBE suppliers and helping WBEs connect with buyers and each other is what we do well and we did it again – in spite of COVID restrictions on events. We look forward to seeing everyone in March as we celebrate Women’s Day.”

As WBE Canada’s 2021 Annual Conference highlighted, the best way forward is together – corporations and governments partnering together to find the ways to make their supply chains more inclusive and for women-owned businesses to work together to lift each other up. And of course for WBE Canada to bridge the gaps between supply chains and female entrepreneurs. This is a time to make history. In the words of our keynote speaker Jennifer Menard-Shand – this is the time for courageous and bold action.

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About WBE Canada

WBE Canada is a Canadian non-profit organization that is opening doors for women-owned businesses to supply chains across North America. It certifies Canadian firms that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by women and introduces them to opportunities with corporations. To learn more about how we support women-owned businesses, click here. If you are a mid-size or large company looking to support women-owned businesses through procurement opportunities, we want to hear from you. Click here to learn more about how you can get involved.