Silvia Pencak Challenges Businesses to Up Their Commitment To Supplier Diversity

During 2018 WBE Canada Annual Conference: Building To the Future, Silvia Pencak, President of WBE Canada challenged attendees to support women-owned businesses and their success. If you missed this transformational event, here is a part of her speech from the conference.

“WELCOME to WBE Canada’s 2018 Annual Conference “Building to the Future”. This is so exciting and not just because this is my first conference as President of WBE Canada – but because in this room we have WBEs, Corporations, Governments, Partner Organizations and Alliances. And we are all here for one purpose – to advance supplier diversity and economic growth across Canada. This is the common goal amongst all of us, whether you are a buyer, a supplier, a partner in growth, or a government official marking the way, whether you have been part of the process for years, or you are just starting out on your journey you will leave here, I guarantee, with more connections, more knowledge, more opportunities and definitely a greater understanding of what WBE Canada stands for and how we plan to make it happen. This conference is designed to get results for each of us.

My first six months has been a whirlwind to say the least. I have met our corporate members, partner organizations, WBEs, attended as many events as possible, and listened to all you have said. I cannot thank the Board of Directors and my Team enough – you have guided me, shared your vision of WBE Canada, embraced new ideas and given the green light to forge into new territory and undertake change. One of the groups I have listened to intently is our Supplier Advisory Committee. Made up of WBEs only, this is the group that is the face of WBEs, they understand the challenges because they face them, it is their advice and their input that will ensure our strategy going forward will result in how our community succeeds.

Who is excited to move supplier diversity to its next level in Canada with us?

We have big vision and ambitious plans at WBE Canada. Our team worked hard during the past 6 months, and we know that there is a lot of work ahead of us. The truth is, we can’t do it alone. We need help, partnerships and financial support. WBE Canada had a good year as our community pulled together and supported us during transition and projects. But we haven’t arrived yet. As you leave today, consider upping your commitment with our organization as we support Canadian women-owned businesses and build bridges between them and corporations across the country. Whether you decide to become a Mentor to a new WBE or Corporate Member, or you share information about our upcoming events with women-owned businesses, or choose to host one of our events, we want to hear from you.

Let’s look at supplier diversity as a whole within Canadian space. According to Statistics Canada, there were 2,933 large businesses in Canada (over 500 employees). This number is much lower than in the US, but when I look at the number of corporations currently committed to supplier diversity, I see massive opportunity. By being in this room, you are actually part of the TOP 1% of corporations committed to supporting Canadian women-owned businesses. You are a pioneer driving change in our country. Every single corporation and government organization that invested money, time and effort into being at this conference, learning about supplier diversity, connecting with WBEs, you should pat yourself on a shoulder and recognize that no, supplier diversity is not popular, but yes, you are leading the way. And for that I want to thank you.

According to Telfer, majority women-owned SMEs represent $117 billion/year of economic activity in Canada.

On the other hand, women-led businesses still make $68,000 less than their male counterparts. This is a 58% gap, which in the 21st century is unacceptable.

Those close to me know that I am a big supporter of shifting from “empowering” women to “buying” from women. Women with opportunities grow and improve. Women who succeed support other women who walk behind them.

Majority women-owned businesses…

  • Are more likely to engage in innovation activities
  • Stay in business longer – their survival rate is higher
  • Are more inclined to grow and expand their businesses
  • Are more active in hiring new employees

There is a bright future ahead of us when women-owned businesses get access to opportunities. I know that I am preaching to the converted here, but I want every single person in this room to understand why WBE Canada is in this game and why it is imperative that we succeed in supporting and promoting WBEs in supply chains. Canadian WBEs are STILL smaller than their male counterparts, with less opportunities and resources.

WBE Canada is on a mission to change this. Our vision is to see empowered women-owned businesses with equal access within corporate and public procurement.

Our mission is to advance economic growth across Canada through certification, promotion and development of women-owned businesses.

If you can get excited about this, we want to hear from you. We want to partner with you.”

This is a snippet of WBE Canada’s President speech at 2018 Annual Conference. WBE Canada is committed to success of Canadian Women Business Enterprises (WBEs). If your organization has opportunities to buy from Canadian women-owned businesses, or you want to sponsor our events or initiatives, we would like to hear from you. Learn more or contact us to start the conversation.