Above: Luis Concepcion (left) and George Erhgott (right)
At the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s national conference last month in Baltimore, MD, Luis Concepcion, Global Procurement Supplier Diversity & Sustainability Leader at DuPont and one of the supplier diversity professionals from our region was honored with the #Hes4Shes Champion award in recognition of his tireless advocacy for Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs).
It was not the first time that a #Hes4Shes champion came from our region: in 2017, George Ehrgott of Communications Test Design, Inc. and the WBEC-East Board of Directors was a member of the inaugural class of honorees. Both men have attended WBEC-East events, gone to national conferences, and volunteered for our organization. We caught up with them to find out more about motivates them, and what other sourcing professionals and WBEs can do to promote the success of women business owners.
Luis and George share a longstanding personal commitment to women’s economic empowerment. When asked why supporting the success of WBEs is important to him, Luis recalled his upbringing surrounded by highly competent, professional women. George, who has been involved in supplier diversity “since the '90s, before supplier diversity even had a name," says that as a sourcing professional, working with diverse businesses just made sense: “here was a group of motivated, capable companies willing to go above and beyond to compete for our business.”
Both #Hes4Shes champions know that working with WBEs can be a key asset to their company’s success. Luis emphasized the growing role that supplier diversity plays in meeting DuPont’s sustainability goals: “Sustainability isn’t just about the environment,” he said. “Increasing equity is also a part of sustainability, and our supplier diversity program plays a key role in moving DuPont toward that goal.” From George's perspective, working with “companies who have completed that extra step of getting certified” is important for corporations because the willingness and ability to go through the certification process can distinguish diverse suppliers as serious and capable. George was also clear that by working with WBEs and other diverse businesses, his company can differentiate itself and help their Fortune 100 clients meet their supplier diversity goals.
Other than certification, what can WBEs do to connect with opportunities? George and Luis emphasized the importance of engaging with RPOs and with the national organization. “I meet with WBEs at Council events”, says George. “And I’m always happy to meet with an interested WBE at those events”. Luis also emphasized the importance of getting signed up within procurement portals: “it’s important so that sourcing managers can find [WBEs] within their systems.”
Although George and Luis work very hard to empower WBEs and promote their success, both know that that there is still a gap in the market between the spend going to WBEs and the spend going to other businesses. When asked how to close that gap, both Luis and George are clear: engaging with the RPO is essential. Luis emphasized the importance of one-to-one conversations to help WBEs make the important connections. When asked what other professionals outside of supplier diversity can do to support WBEs, Luis said, “tell us what your needs are”. George mentioned making sure that opportunities advertised to diverse suppliers were legitimate opportunities. Both Luis and George were clear that whether you are a supplier diversity professional, a WBE, or an ally of WBEs in the corporate setting, getting involved and making connections is crucial.