About a year ago, we received a phone call from a construction company at the Women In Trucking headquarters. The (male) caller asked if we had any trucks available. I explained that we were a nonprofit association with no assets but we had members who owned trucks. He said he was required to hire women and minority owned businesses for his road construction business and was desperate to find any women owned companies with dump trucks.
Fortunately for us and our member, we had a corporate (female) member who owned a fleet of dump trucks and operated in his area, so, we matched them and helped both companies in the process.
Since then, we have been contacted by numerous shippers and logistics companies who are looking for suppliers to meet their diversity goals. Some of these companies have diversity requirements imposed on them from the government if they are working on publicly funded projects.
Some companies implement their own diversity requirements because they want to be socially responsible. Pepsi-Co’s supplier diversity efforts are based on a mission, “to purchase from a supplier base representative of our employees, consumers, retail customers and communities.”
Regardless of the reason for pursuing a more diverse supplier base, shippers are searching for women, minorities and disadvantaged businesses to provide their transportation needs.
Because of this, the Women In Trucking Association is working to match women owned businesses, or certified WBE’s (Women Business Enterprises) with shippers and logistics companies who value a diverse supplier network.
Recently we reached out to our corporate members with the goal of identifying businesses that could be classified as WBEs. These are companies that have more than fifty-one percent ownership by a woman or women who is/are active in the day-to-day operations of the business and holds the highest office in the company. While there are many husband-wife teams who operate one truck, they must demonstrate that the wife does at least half of the work required to run the operations.
Merely by being identified as a woman owned business does not provide the authenticity and verification to shippers who are looking to fulfill diversity needs. The business must then go through a certification process to confirm that the company meets the requirements of majority owned and controlled by one or more women.
There are different types of certification a company can acquire, and for women there are two large nonprofit organizations that will help you through this WBE process. The National Women Business Owners Corporation (nwboc.org) was the first certification program for women, established in 1995. Over 700 public and private sector individuals participated in establishing their entire process, a project sponsored by IBM. The other national organization is the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (wbenc.org). There are also state and local certification programs available, depending on the type of government entity with whom you are working.
Because of the need for meeting diversity goals, Women In Trucking will be working with NWBOC to help our members identify and certify their companies as WBEs. This database will then be provided to buyers and supplier diversity managers who have procurement opportunities to offer.
The process is not difficult, but does take some time to complete, as the certifying body must verify that the company is truly a WBE and not just seeking this designation to unfairly compete for business. Why should you consider becoming a WBE? The NWBOC website offers this advice:
Women business owners say that WBE Certification is important to them because it adds credibility to their company, as well as being part of their business development strategy. Certification that a business is owned by a woman is required if you wish to participate in programs which require utilization and tracking of woman-owned businesses.
What is required to become certified as a WBE? Again, here is information from the NWBOC website:
WBE Certification is obtained by applying for it and meeting the criteria. The application requirements include detailed information supplied by the business owner and copies of business documents. Once the application and supporting documentation is received, it is reviewed by the certifying entity. Final steps in the application process include a personal visit to the applicant’s place of business. NWBOC has enlisted only the highest qualified, independent individuals to review your application and make site visits. In addition, all reviewers and site visitors have been thoroughly trained by NWBOC.
Helping women become WBE and secure additional work through this effort is our goal. Our mission includes the quest to remove obstacles that might keep women from succeeding in the trucking industry, and leveling the playing field through certification will help us (and you!) meet this goal.
Visit www.womenintrucking.org for more information and to become a member.
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