Earlier this year, the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN®) launched the USBLN Affiliate Supplier Diversity Initiative, enlisting affiliates to design and implement proactive strategies to build awareness and increase utilization of disability-owned businesses in local communities. Wells Fargo, a USBLN Corporate Partner and Founding Partner of the USBLN Disability Supplier Diversity Program (DSDP®), will provide generous financial support to aid these efforts with a grant to the Massachusetts Business Leadership Network (MABLN), a program of UMass Medical School’s Work Without Limits (WWL).
“This new initiative will help propel DSDP to the next level by engaging affiliates at the local level to work with corporations embracing the benefits of disability supplier diversity inclusion and disability-owned businesses ready to be certified by USBLN® and elevate their business in the commercial sector,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO of USBLN®. “We are thankful to Wells Fargo for their ongoing commitment to USBLN and creating economic opportunity for people with disabilities.”
“Massachusetts is excited to be part of the USBLN’s Affiliate Supplier Diversity Initiative. Many of our corporate members have supplier diversity initiatives and there is a definite interest to include disability-owned businesses in their supply chains,” said Work Without Limits Director Kathy Petkauskos.
“This initial support from the USBLN and Wells Fargo will help us to lay the foundation for our local initiative, and to begin to raise awareness in our state that entrepreneurship and business ownership is yet another path to independence and self-sufficiency for people with disabilities, including disabled veterans,” Petkauskos said.
These efforts align with Gov. Charlie Baker’s commitment to include disability-owned businesses in the state’s network and procurement chain, and to leverage the cross-certification partnership that the governor established with the USBLN in 2015 under Executive Order 565.
Since their inception, USBLN® affiliates have made tremendous progress in advancing disability inclusion in the workplace and marketplace in communities across the country. This innovative initiative will support affiliates by helping them grow supplier diversity programming in their BLN, as well as identify local disability-owned businesses who may be eligible to apply for USBLN certification as a Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE®) or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise (SDV-DOBE™).
USBLN established its Disability Supplier Diversity Program (DSDP®) in 2010 with the mission to certify and develop DOBEs, as well as help corporations develop supplier diversity programs that are fully inclusive of businesses owned by people with disabilities.
“Wells Fargo is proud of its long-time partnership with the USBLN and pleased to support this Initiative. We’re committed to creating access and opportunity for members of the disability community,” said Regina O. Heyward, Senior Vice President and Head of Supplier Diversity at Wells Fargo. “The affiliates are well-positioned to build awareness and bring together companies and community business organizations in support of disability-owned businesses. When these businesses are given the opportunity, they’re contributors to the economic growth and well-being of our local communities.”
The grants provided by Wells Fargo will help affiliates and their local communities embrace the idea of self-employment and entrepreneurship as another clear path to economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities, as well as attract companies who are looking to further diversity their supply chain.
Other USBLN Affiliates participating in the launch of the initiative are:
- Chicagoland BLN
- Connecticut BLN
- DC Metro BLN
- Hawaii BLN
- North Carolina BLN
- Ohio BLN
The MABLN looks forward to working with the USBLN and Wells Fargo to create more economic opportunities for people with disabilities and their full inclusion in the workforce, marketplace and supply chain.