Supplier Diversity Champion: Sandra Altner

This month we are featuring women who significantly contributed to development of supplier diversity initiatives in Canada. If you missed the beginning of the series, click here to catch up. Today it is our pleasure to introduce Sandra Altner, long time partner of WBE Canada.

Sandra Altner is Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC), a national organization that supports initiatives that serve women entrepreneurs. She has also been CEO of the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba (WECM) since 2007 and has been instrumental in evolving the Centre’s mandate and building internal competencies to assist women entrepreneurs, from start-up, through growth and into expansion stages.

WBE Canada: How did you become involved with WBE Canada and/or supporting women through supply chain?

Sandra: We have been involved with WBE Canada since its inception in 2009 as a collaborator, partner, assessor and ‘connecter’ with our women business clients who have need of supplier diversity supports and market contacts both as the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba and Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada

WBE Canada: In your opinion, why is supplier diversity important in Canada?  

Sandra: It is an important way to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs.  Help in accessing larger markets through supplier diversity, whether primary, secondary or tertiary, is an essential resource for women’s business growth. Supplier diversity is an important way to support this under-resourced sector. Women deserve to have the same doors opened for them as are there for men selling similar products or services.

WBE Canada: Share your favourite story or achievement you personally experienced or witnessed in the supplier diversity space.

Sandra: I have been impressed with the positive networking that results from bringing women entrepreneurs from all over Canada together to do business with each other and with major corporate and government organizations.  Eventually, that connection brings business to women owned businesses and benefits the buyer through the connection to innovative new enterprises.

WBE Canada: Supplier diversity is still fairly unknown in Canada. What is your recommendation to other leaders who want to learn more or support women through their organization’s procurement?

Sandra: Supplier diversity is not about corporate responsibility in the social sense. It’s just good business to buy from companies who may not initially have been on your radar but who have the capacity to bring innovative products and services to support your organization.

WBE Canada: What women inspire you and why?

Sandra: Every woman whose energy goes toward building a business while she simultaneously supports children or parents, or contributes to community or overcomes adversity in any of a dozen different ways. These women are heroes and should be celebrated and supported wherever possible.  

WBE Canada: What message would you like to share with Canadian women-owned businesses?

Sandra: Take advantage of the supports that are offered.  Go on trade missions. Go to conferences. Perfect your pitch. Follow up on contacts. Don’t get discouraged if this all takes time.

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