Corporate Member News

accenture logoAccenture Highlights Work with WEConnect International in New Report

(March 31, 2015) Member corporation Accenture released its 2014 Corporate Sustainability Report this week with a section on its efforts to build more inclusive and diverse supply chains. The report highlights Accenture's collaboration with WEConnect International to create opportunities for women business owners across all continents in countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. 

Did you know WEConnect International certified women's business enterprise Mamma Bella boasts Accenture as one of its many corporate clients?

Did you know Accenture supported three business innovation training workshops in Nigeria in 2014?

Did you know WEConnect International certified women's business enterprise Gradus Engineers has imporved the indorr air quality of Accenture's workfloors in India with noadditional energy consumption?

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sodexofpSodexo Recognized at 2014 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting for Supporting Small to Medium Size Enterprises with $1 Billion in Purchases of Products and Services By 2017

On September 22, 2014, Sodexo announced its official Commitment to Action at the 10th Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York today. The commitment supports the growth of small to medium sized enterprises (SME) with a pledge to purchase products and services totaling $1billion by 2017. The Commitment to Action aims to benefit as many as 5,000 small businesses in 40 countries including the U.S., with 1,500 of those businesses being women owned and operated.

WEConnect will specifically work with Sodexo in supporting women-owned businesses in targeted countries including UK, Canada, Australia, Peru, Chile, and India.

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 Co-Board Chair Michael Robinson Receives Ronald H. Brown Leadership Award

Robinson MichaelBoard Co-Chair Michael Robinson has received the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency's Ronald H. Brown Leadership Award for his exceptional leadership and significant success in creating diversity in the private sector.

Robinson is Program Director, Global Supplier Diversity for IBM’s Integrated Supply Chain. He is responsible for leading IBM’s supplier diversity initiatives worldwide.  In this role, he and his team, focus on the utilization, development and mentoring of diverse suppliers who can provide value-add to IBM’s Supply Chain.  Robinson’s team is also responsible for IBM’s Supplier Connection initiative, which provides small businesses access to large corporations.

Under Robinson’s leadership, IBM has been selected for numerous awards such as Corporation of the Year by the NMSDC, one of the Top Corporations by WBENC, received the Francis Perkins Van Guard Award by the SBA, CMSDC Corporation of the Year, NY/NJ MSDC Corporation of the Year, Michigan MBC IT Corporation of the Year, one of Asian Enterprises Top Corporations, and one of’s Top Corporations to name a few.  IBM spent in excess of $2Billion, 1st Tier, annually worldwide with diverse enterprises since 2006 and in excess of $1B, 1st Tier,  annually with diverse enterprises in the U.S. since 2000.

Robinson’s IBM experience has spanned various disciplines. His previous positions include:  Manufacturing Manager, Procurement and Production Control Manager in Charlotte, NC; Distribution Manager in Boulder, CO; ECAT Site Procurement Manager in Charlotte, NC; Materials Manager in San Jose, CA; Business Services Council Chair in Charlotte, NC and Federal Procurement Manager in Bethesda, MD.  

Robinson attended the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia; received his BS from Cheyney University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and his MBA from Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia.

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 A Q&A with Fernando J. Hernandez, Supplier Diversity Director, Microsoft Corporation

FernandoHernandez2 2013May 12, 2014 - Fernando J. Hernandez is Supplier Diversity Director for Microsoft Corporation, a WEConnect International Corporate Member. In this capacity, he drives the company’s strategies to achieve supplier diversity objectives. He is responsible for Microsoft’s $2 billion annual Supplier Diversity initiative.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Hernandez served as Senior Vice President of Multicultural Marketing Strategy for Washington Mutual Bank, where he established, developed, and implemented comprehensive multicultural marketing initiatives.  Previously, he had served as Executive Director of Multicultural Marketing with AT&T.  Hernandez was the first to establish and implement multicultural business to business and consumer marketing at AT&T in 1991.

He holds a degree in Accounting from Saint Peter’s College and his Masters in Information Systems from Stevens Institute of Technology.  He studied at the Wharton School of Business and is the recipient of various awards and recognitions, including the 2011 Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

On May 21st, Hernandez will be honored in New York City with the Robert M. Stuart Leadership Award at the gala of the National Minority Supplier Development Council.

Hernandez sat down with WEConnect International to talk about his achievements, diversity and inclusion and the empowerment of women.

1) How did you personally become interested in diversity and inclusion?

I have been interested in this area all my life. I grew up in Union City, New Jersey, and I went to school in Jersey City. It was very evident to me. Diversity was all around. I am a product of diverse environments and I have always felt comfortable in these settings.

2) How did your professional career arc in diversity and inclusion develop?

I ran and started multicultural marketing effort in 1991 in AT&T. For 14 years. I had done very well in international sales at AT&T and as a consequence of that I was asked to start a multicultural marketing group. Basically AT&T was trying to figure it out. First it was ethnic, then international, and it eventually became multicultural marketing. It was focused within the US. I jumped into it early on and enjoyed it immensely. I had the opportunity to learn about the diverse groups in this country. I took the business to consumer side from zero to a $2 billion annual business over the course of 8 to 10 years. I came to market at a great time. It was the right place at the right time. The experience was rewarding and gave me a really good understanding and appreciation on how to do business in these markets.

By chance I met the person who was leading the supplier diversity efforts at AT&T. I took over it over and did that for about 2 years.

Then I was recruited by Washington Mutual to be Senior Vice President of Multicultural Marketing and Chief Diversity Officer. It was really a great opportunity because it was both, looking inwards and outwards. I was able to design strategies to penetrate markets and enhance our diversity within.

I came to Microsoft in 2006 because there was an opportunity to lead the Supplier Diversity program. It was an exciting opportunity with a global leader in technology and within a sector that could use a little diversity. At that time Microsoft had $622 million a year in overall spend in the U.S. Tim McBride, the Microsoft executive who brought me in, challenged me to reach $1 billion in three years and become a member of the Billon Dollar Roundtable. I made it my goal to reach the billion in two years, and I accomplished that objective.  As we close in on year end in June, I anticipate doing $2 billion in spend.

The supplier diversity goals for the global markets are different. We are respectful of the Microsoft entities in each of the different markets. They set up their own goals and I support their efforts. At the end of the day it is up to them to engage in meaningful ways. They know their markets. 

3) Why should the private sector focus on diversity and inclusion in its supply chains?

From my perspective it’s linear. We see the opportunity and the opportunity is global. The intent at Microsoft Corporation is to take diversity global. It’s part of the overall strategy. 

4) Why support women?

Supporting women is common sense. Women in emerging markets have made such an impact in the development of families and communities. They are the huge catalysts for change.

Empowering women also makes great business sense. We are looking at enabling the next 1 billion people who currently don’t have access to our different platforms, and a substantial number of those are women. Our strategy is to pursue the next 1 billion globally and reach it with devices and software. 

5) What does this honor mean to you?

It is always humbling and pleasing to receive this type of recognition. It is gratifying to get awards and to see the transformative change that we bring about. At the same time, I recognize I had to do more, we all have to do more. What I am going to do is see the best way that I can continue serve society and go in that direction. I believe you can do anything you think you want to do. I don’t believe in limitations. I love what I do now and know that I will always support in some way, shape or form.

WEConnect International Corporate Partners Shine in Celebration of Diversity


April 24, 2014 - Numerous WEConnect International corporate members were recognized as leaders in diversity and inclusion at the announcement dinner of the 2014 DiversityInc Top 50 list on April 22nd in New York City.

WEConnect International members making the Top 50 are Sodexo (2nd), EY (3rd), MasterCard (6th), Johnson & Johnson (9th), ATT (10th), Accenture (12th), Merck (14th), Cummins (15th), Marriott International (16th), IBM (23rd ),WellPoint (29th), Dell (32nd Coca-Cola (33rd), Wyndham Worldwide (39th), and Verizon (43rd).  

Near 800 business executives attended the event, which also featured the announcement of the 12 2014 Specialty Lists. Of the Top Ten Companies for Supplier Diversity list, the first five are WEConnect International corporate members --ATT, Wyndham Worldwide, WellPoint, EY and Hilton Worldwide. Additionally, Marriott International is 7th and Accenture occupies the 9th position.

The dinner was preceded by a best practices program at the Museum of American Finance. Some 300 participants took in presentations from Nielsen, Time Warner, EY, Deloitte, Wyndham Worldwide, AT&T, Walmart, PricewaterhouseCoopers and other corporate giants.

This is the 14th year that DiversityInc, a leading organization specializing in diversity, has released its ranking of public and private companies on their commitment to workplace diversity.

Congratulations to all of the companies recognized for their diversity and inclusion efforts!

Photo: Sheri Shafir, Associate Director, Supplier Diversity, Novartis; Michael Tobolski, Director of Corporate Relations, WEConnect International, Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO and Co-Founder, WEConnect International.

New Corporations Join the Growing WEConnect International Community

March 21, 2014 - Insurance giant AIG, financial powerhouse Access Bank, and pharma industry leader Merck have joined WEConnect International’s corporate community as Global Members.

Banco Nacional, the largest bank in Central America, came on board as a local member in Costa Rica.

Merck expanded its engagement from its local membership in Canada and Europe, while the three other corporations are beginning the relationship with WEConnect International.

“We are delighted to welcome AIG, Access Bank, Merck, and Banco Nacional,” said Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and Founder of WEConnect International. “We are confident they will make invaluable contributions to further our mission and we look forward to working with them,” she added.

The moves underscore the commitment of these organizations to integrate diversity and inclusion into their sourcing and procurement processes.

“In a global marketplace, we know that diversity – of people, ideas, and skills – is essential for us to continue building our competitive advantage,” Robert Benmosche, AIG President and CEO, said in a statement published on the company’s website.

“At Merck, we are committed to inclusion,” noted Quentin Roach, Chief Procurement Officer and Senior Vice President Global Procurement. “This fosters a solid and inclusive supply-base that is reliable, innovative and cost-effective,” he added.

State owned Banco Nacional of Costa Rica is the largest bank in Central America. It employs a workforce of almost 5,000 and has a network of over 170 branches.