The need for improving market opportunities is clear: Only 3 percent of private-sector contracts and 2 percent of government contracts go to women.
Susan Bari of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) identified some steps to help overcome the inequity: increasing procurement and simplifying the certification process for women in government contracting. WBENC and the National Women Business Owners Corp., which both certify women-owned business enterprises, have agreed to create a universally recognized certification format.
Summit participants also want to encourage corporations to increase supplier diversity. "The key to a good program is commitment from CEOs," says Bari. In response, summit leaders are creating a series of regional CEO Covenants in which corporations with successful programs encourage others to set and achieve supplier diversity goals.
Finally, participants passed a resolution requesting "Women business enterprises be treated with the same presumptions [of historic underutilization] as minority business enterprises when government programs provide competitive enhancements for minorities and women under the rubric of socially and economically disadvantaged statuses."
Once the programs are finalized, summit organizers will create a master plan they'll present to Congress and the president during women's history month in March.