WEConnect Europe Conference 2019

WEConnect Europe Conference 2019


Another wonderful WEConnect Conference – the place to meet corporations who are leading the way in driving gender diversity in the supply chain or those who are starting out on their diversity journey and want to learn from industry peers, understand best practice and pick up tips in driving their own programs.

The two-day conference was held in the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London Kensington and had 260 attendees; both corporate members and women owned businesses from around the world.  This is the biggest gender diversity event and it most certainly didn’t disappoint, with inspirational speakers and thought-provoking topics to take back to our organisations.

The key sponsors included; Intel, Accenture, IBM, Bristol-Myers Squibb, MSD, Barilla, Boeing, Enterprise, Exxon Mobile, Exyte, EY, Gibbs Hybrid, Goldman Sachs, iTalent Digital, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Randstad, USPS and Adient.

The WBE Council, formed of women-owned businesses ran a small get together the night before the conference for those women new to the WEConnect family, giving them a chance to make some connections pre-event and to understand more about the conference itself.   A big part of being a certified member of WEConnect is being part of a wonderfully supportive community, a place to collaborate, share and grow together.

The conference MC was Andi Keeling, a certified woman-owned business and principle consultant of EDIT.  Andi was fabulous – the room was buzzing with conversation, Andi walked to the front of the stage and there was silence.  Wow, she certainly knows how to control a room!

Lynne Parker, CEO at Funny Women, also a certified woman-owned business opened the morning session with Jenny Bold, actor and director. It was a brilliant way to capture the energy in the room but ultimately, the session was about listening and focusing on others to trigger and build relationships.

The next session was from Intel with Deaneesha Govender talking about what it takes to be a successful supplier to a corporation.  The take-out for me here is you can’t always work directly with Intel, the route to market may be via a first-tier supplier and it is vital to do your research and understand where you can bring value.

We were delighted to run our session  ‘Does running a sustainable business really matter?’ where Gill talked about the challenges we face, what triggered her interest, passion and whole business focus into sustainable and ethical supply chains – along with some examples of what others are doing and some pointers to add inspiration wherever you are on your sustainable journey.

If you would like a copy of the presentation, we’d be delighted to share it – gillthorpe@sourcing.co.uk.

We loved the ‘Rise of the Robots’ from Audra Jenkins, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Randstad North America and great to see them as a new European corporate member.

We heard some wonderful stories from corporations working with women-owned business during 2019 and it was good to see so many successes!

The last session of day one was from Geeta Sidhu-Robb, Chair of the MicroLoan Foundation’s Women’s Development Board.  ‘Giving Hope, Not Handouts’ – truly inspiring, particularly for a room of women!  Here is a link to their website and also to their 2018 Annual Report that you might find interesting – it covers exactly what they do, how they raise income, where they provide loans and how the impact they have made.

On day two it was wonderful to hear from Jean Chawapiwa, Country Director for WEConnect International from South Africa.  Hearing all the great work they are doing to drive the diversity agenda and success particularly around their launch of sector-specific, WBE collaboration groups.

Mary Healy from Accenture followed with ‘Building a coordinated marketing framework’ – full of great tips and guidance for improving your marketing programmes and certainly will be in our planning for 2020.

Tom Woodham from IBM demystified Blockchain brilliantly and how it can be used to validate more inclusive value chains. And the final fascinating session, the ‘Illusion Delusion’ from Angela Peacock showed us how conscious and unconscious bias affects us all without us realising it!

We had table discussions, breakout sessions and loads of networking. Maggie Berry and the Team at WEConnect – wow, what a fabulous event.

Here are some images from the event!

WEConnect Europe 2019 The Sourcing Team