DALLAS — AT&T* has announced the completion of its first year-long mentoring program for women owners of small businesses and the graduation of its first seven participants.
The rigorous program included mentoring, coaching, classes, webinars and other activities that taught participants how to operate effectively within a global supply chain, utilize government and private sector resources, and incorporate cutting-edge technology to improve their business operations, remove defects and elevate customer satisfaction.
The mentoring program is part of AT&T’s Women of Color Businesses (WOCB) Growth Initiative. Launched in 2009, the initiative aims to help minority women owners develop the tools and expertise to win large corporate contracts.
In addition to sponsoring the seven businesses in the WOCB Growth Initiative, AT&T provided scholarships to the participants to attend executive training programs at leading business schools. Additionally, it awarded $250,000 Micro-Businesses Technical Assistance Grants to non-profit community organizations that focus on the development of small businesses owned by women of color.
“For AT&T to succeed we need to be able to count on quality-certified suppliers that can help us deliver best-in-class products and services to our customers,” said Marianne Strobel, executive director, AT&T Global Supplier Diversity.
During the past twelve months, the program’s seven participants were also mentored by existing minority women AT&T suppliers who shared their expertise and quality certification journey with the mentees. Upon completing the program, participants obtained their TL 9000 quality certification – an internationally recognized quality system requirement for telecom suppliers.
The seven graduates of AT&T’s 2010 WOCBG program are:
· Madinah S. Ali, chairwoman & CEO, MSA Global, a contact center provider with both domestic and near shore capabilities in the U.S., Mexico, and Philippines.
· Cindy Kazee, owner & president of Universal Network Development Corporation, a supplier of engineers and other technical workers to telecommunications companies.
· Kim Le, CPA & CIA, CEO and founder of A2Q2 Corporation, a professional services firm specializing in accounting projects, business process optimization, internal controls and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.
· Gloria Robbins, CEO and founder of Specialized Marketing Services, a company that develops innovative online and off-line marketing solutions to help businesses find and retain customers, and grow revenues.
· Shavila Singh, founder and president of Zero Waste Solutions, a company that provides services to help businesses and government agencies reduce operational while protecting and preserving the environment.
· Tracy Stanhoff, president & creative director of AD PRO, a firm that specializes in advertising, graphic design, convention exhibit, promotional item, large format graphic, printing and web services.
· Harriet Stricklen, founder & past president of AMG-A Management Group, a provider of human resources services and SaaS Applications, and a workforce training and placement firm.
After graduation, participants will continue to be introduced to AT&T opportunities that match their specific offerings and to AT&T Prime Suppliers to explore potential business opportunities.
AT&T implemented the mentoring program in response to the Center for Women’s Business Research’s 2008 study of women of color businesses. The study found these businesses are starting at three times the rate of all other groups yet lag behind other firms in terms of growth factors such as revenue and number of employees.
AT&T’s WOCB Growth Initiative reflects the company’s commitment to increasing its vendor diversity by putting in place a program that addresses the needs small businesses have competing in large global supply chains. AT&T is a pioneer of including diversity owned businesses in its supply chain and has been named to WBENC’s list of America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises every year since the list’s inception 11 years ago for its efforts in breaking down barriers that impede women-owned businesses from gaining fair access to procurement opportunities.