Diverse. Inclusive. Innovative.  

These are the characteristics that businesses strive to be associated with. Diversity breeds competition and varying perspectives and backgrounds that can be converted into competitive advantages. Inclusion cultivates community and unifies efforts across the business. These qualities lead to an interconnected, positive environment and culture, which opens the door for increased innovation. 

But how does a company prove it is diverse? What factors validate inclusivity? 

At Sepire, our CEO Michelle Steinberg envisioned a driven, diverse, community-based workplace – and she constantly works to facilitate this type of environment. Our industry tends to be male-dominated and isn’t known for inclusivity … or at times, equality. Michelle wanted to combat this trend by confronting it head on. 

To do so, she sought to validate our commitment to these values through the WBENC certification

What’s the WBENC?

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is one of the most widely recognized and largest certifiers of women-owned businesses in the United States – in addition to being a major proponent of female leaders in the workplace. According to the WBENC website, the company’s mission is “to fuel economic growth globally by identifying, certifying, and facilitating the development of women-owned businesses.”

The WBENC and its 14 Regional Partner Organizations (RPOs), like the Center for Women & Enterprise, the Greater Women’s Business Council, and the Women’s Business Development Center of the Midwest, collaborate to assess and certify WBEs across the country. To date, there are over 15,000 certified women-owned businesses – and Sepire is honored to be one of them

The WBENC honors corporations that have demonstrated a sustained commitment to partnering with WBEs with the America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises award. Last year’s honorees were some of the largest and most-recognized brands in the world – including Accenture, AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, IBM, Kellogg, and Target. 

These companies and 53 other honorees committed to spending over $39.5 billion on WBE suppliers, which was an increase of $200 million from 2017. 

Who can be certified? What’s the process?

In order to be certified as a WBE by the WBENC, a company must be at least 51% owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women. 

The company must then undergo an official assessment by submitting formal documentation and hosting a site visit, which is administered by one of the RPOs. The documentation must not only prove the company is majority owned and controlled by women but also demonstrate women hold power to direct the business’s management and policies, as well as the ability to exercise operational authority. This can include an analysis of each woman’s experience, responsibility, and technical competence. 

Further, per the WBENC’s Standards and Procedures, the “woman or women owner(s)’s expertise must be indispensable to the business’s potential success” and “shall have the ability to perform…without substantial reliance upon finances and resources of males or non-woman business enterprises.” 

To put it simply: the review is thorough. It’s how the WBE certification is able to validate a company’s efforts to be diverse and inclusive. 

Why did Sepire apply to be a WBE?

As a WBE, Sepire seeks to perpetuate the WBENC’s mission.

In this day and age, to fuel economic growth, it’s imperative to maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce. 

We know that diversity spurs innovation and facilitates competition. 

We understand the importance of these attributes. Being associated with these words is a big responsibility. It’s a big responsibility to our team, our partners, and our clients.

We believe diversity can lead to great things. By being inclusive and accepting, it’s our goal to foster positive, competitive, innovative environments for our team so that we, in turn, can provide the best solutions and services to our clients.