American Honda moves to build on existing success with WBEs.
Eighteen women-owned companies participating in an August 7, 2019 procurement opportunity and networking forum found another way to spell new business: H-O-N-D-A.
Held at American Honda Motor Co.’s North American headquarters in Torrance, California, the inaugural half-day Supplier Impact Exchange brought together all 14 members of the company’s procurement team with representatives from women-owned businesses specializing in a variety of in-demand services, including advertising, janitorial, landscaping, logistics, marketing and printing.
In opening the event, Rich Richardson, vice president, human resources, administration and corporate affairs said, “Our industry is experiencing rapid change. We’re moving quickly to the introduction of electrified vehicles, including hybrid, battery and photoelectric. As a result of these changes, we’re looking for new and innovative ways to reach our business objectives. This includes continuing to diversify our supplier base as we seek out the best and most innovative partners who can help us prepare for the future.”
Women business enterprises (WBEs) are playing a growing role in that future. American Honda spent more than $21 million with women-owned suppliers during the company’s most recent fiscal year, up 19 percent from the prior year. The Supplier Impact Exchange program seeks to build on that momentum and that means significant new business opportunities for WBEs.
“The Supplier Impact Exchange will help us identify additional suppliers who have the experience and capabilities that best align with our internal business units and who can respond quickly to our changing needs,” said Brian Butts, American Honda’s procurement inclusion and diversity manager. “The program provides prospective suppliers an entry point into American Honda and an ideal opportunity to learn more about the services we need, how we operate and how to establish a contracting relationship with us. For suppliers already working with us, it’s a great way to expand their relationship.”
Butts explained that the “mobility company,” a term American Honda uses to describe all its operations, including those beyond motorcycle and automobile manufacturing, has previously sponsored similar programs. However, shifting corporate priorities are driving a renewed urgency to recruit new suppliers offering a greater diversity of skills and experiences. It’s why American Honda turned to the Women’s Business Enterprise Council-West (WBEC-West) for help sourcing new potential vendors. WBEC-West is one of the country’s largest third-party WBE-certifying agencies and well known for designing customized supplier diversity programs and events.
“We’re extremely excited to partner with and produce the first annual American Honda Supplier Impact Exchange. And I am thankful and appreciative that American Honda asked us to refer several qualified women-owned businesses that could potentially do business with them,” said WBEC-West vice president Jaymee Lomax, who was joined on the event steering committee by Rashmi Chaturvedi, WBEC-West Orange County forum chair and incoming Women’s Business Enterprise National Council advisory forum representative. “The exchange was an amazing opportunity for each company to exhibit and display some of its products or services and promote its capabilities to American Honda leadership and procurement team members. We’re helping prove that bringing in women-owned and diverse businesses can be a true benefit to corporations.”
The company is planning a second annual event in 2020 and may expand the program to other U.S. markets.
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