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Rio+20: Supplier Inclusion: Good for Business, Good for Women, Good for Sustainable Development

Posted on 06/18/2012

(Rio de Janeiro, 18 June 2012) – New opportunities for women, business and sustainable development can be achieved by promoting supplier diversity and inclusion as a key component of sustainable procurement. That message is at the core of a new strategic alliance between the UN Global Compact, the International Trade Centre (ITC), WEConnect International, the corporate led non-profit that empowers women to thrive in global markets, and BPW International, an international network of business and professional women.

Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Group members Amanda Ellis, Head of the New Zealand Aid Programme, Deputy Secretary International Development in New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Freda Miriklis, President, BPW International announced the alliance today at the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, being held in conjunction with the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The alliance was established under the Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors, which aims to increase women's share of corporate, government and institutional procurement.

“ITC welcomes new partners to the Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors and values partnerships that deliver for women entrepreneurs,” said Patricia Francis, Executive Director, ITC.

“This collaboration is one of great synergy,” says Elizabeth Vazquez, WEConnect International CEO and co-founder, “especially given the increasing importance of social, environmental, and governance performance reviews of companies by internal and external stakeholders."

“This collaboration gives us the collective strength to drive for change and we are delighted to join together with the UN Global Compact, ITC and WEConnect International to empower women at all levels; at the top, at state level and in our local communities,” says Freda Miriklis, President, BPW International.

"Making the connection between supplier diversity initiatives and sustainable procurement practices can help to yield benefits for buyers, suppliers and societies," said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. "This is a prime example of women's empowerment and opportunities that can flow from an integrated approach to corporate sustainability."

For companies that can demonstrate their commitment to environmental and social sustainability, the business opportunities in global value chains are growing rapidly. Women-owned enterprises embracing corporate sustainability can boost their market share and business opportunities with
industry leaders.

The collaboration between the UN Global Compact, the ITC, WEConnect International and and BPW International will explore global and local opportunities to make the connection between sustainable supply chain management and supplier inclusion initiatives, and help advance Principle 5 of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). The WEPs are the result of a partnership between the UN Global Compact and UN Women, and include the call for corporations around the world to extend their business relationships with women-owned enterprises.

The collaboration will also bring to a wider audience the information, tools and resources needed to empower corporations and women-owned enterprises to work more closely together to achieve sustainable shared value. Among the alliance’s anticipated activities are educational webinars, capacity-building efforts, updated guidance materials, trade events and calls to action.

A critical dimension of the collaboration will be raising awareness of other initiatives that connect supplier inclusion with corporate sustainability. Organizations interested in participating should contact the representatives below.

About the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum: Innovation and Collaboration for the Future We Want
Hosted by the UN Global Compact, in cooperation with the Rio+20 Secretariat, the UN System and the Global Compact Local Network Brazil, the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum (15-18 June 2012) seeks to bring greater scale and quality to corporate sustainability practices, as a critical contribution to sustainable development. As a showcase for innovation and collaboration, the Forum is designed to be a launching ground for widespread action. With more than 2,500 participants in attendance, the Forum features over 100 sessions focused on six themes central to the Rio+20 agenda: Energy & Climate, Water & Ecosystems, Agriculture & Food, Social Development, Urbanization & Cities, and Economics & Finance. www.compact4rio.org

About the UN Global Compact
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is a both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With 7,000 corporate signatories in 135 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative. www.unglobalcompact.org

Ursula Wynhoven, Wynhoven@un.org
Lauren Gula, gulal@unglobalcompact.org

About the International Trade Centre
ITC is the joint agency of WTO and the United Nations and is devoted to helping small and medium enterprises in developing countries become more competitive in global markets and thus to speed up sustainable economic development and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. www.intracen.org

Meg Jones, Jones@intracen.org

About WEConnect International
WEConnect International, a corporate-led non-profit, helps build sustainable communities and economic growth by empowering women business owners to succeed in global markets. Based in Washington, D.C., WEConnect International has since 2009 provided certification, resources, mentoring and peer/corporate connections to businesses based outside the United States that are at least 51 percent owned, managed and controlled by one or more women. WEConnect International corporate members represent $700 billion in annual purchasing power and are true pioneers in inclusive sourcing and global supplier development: Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Boeing, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Cummins, D.W. Morgan, Dun & Bradstreet, Ernst & Young, ExxonMobil, Full Circle Exchange, GlaxoSmithKline, Goldman Sachs, HP, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Manpower, Marriott International, Microsoft, Motorola, Pfizer, PG&E, RBS, Verizon, Walmart and Wellpoint. Learn more at www.WEConnectInternational.org.

Elizabeth Vazquez, Media@WEConnectInternational.org

About BPW International
The International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International) is an influential international network of business and professional women from over 100 countries in 5 continents with Consultative Status at ECOSOC/United Nations. Founded in 1930, BPW International has advocated for workplace equality, the right to vote, equal pay and represents women in the economy and women in leadership, power and decision making roles. BPW International is bringing the voice of women to business by leading the awareness of the Women’s Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business; Equal Pay Day Campaigns and bringing greater economic benefit to women entrepreneurs through the Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors. BPW members are Empowered Women Leading Business - from the top, at all levels and in the communities which we live. Visit our website at: www.bpw-international.org

Freda Miriklis, freda.miriklis@bpw-international.org

Vivien Hazel, Vivien.hazel@bpw-international.org