In the summer of 2018, Jacobs became a certified Women Owned business. Here is the story of the inspiring woman who led this initiative at Jacobs.
It may come as a surprise that 40 percent of the businesses in the US are owned by women. This means that roughly every other storefront, digital or physical, has a woman at the helm. According to a recent 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses report, the number of companies owned by women increased almost 31-fold between 1972 and 2018--from 402,000 to 12.3 million. Fantastic progress!
Last year, Jacobs completed the process of becoming a certified Women-Owned business. Women Owned is an initiative from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and WEConnect International to create a movement of support for Women Owned businesses. Senior Merchandising Specialist, Signe Anderson, spearheaded this initiative for our company and we are truly grateful and inspired to have her leading the way with diversity and inclusion for the Jacobs team. The benefits of certification extend beyond using the Women Owned Logo; certification also connects Jacobs to vast networks, opportunities and resources. Certified Women’s Business Enterprises have access to supplier diversity and procurement executives at hundreds of multi-national corporations; access to mentoring, education, and capacity development; and the opportunity to network and connect with other women-owned businesses.
When Signe joined Jacobs a few years ago, she wanted to bring a focus on diversity in the workplace. Being a former team member at Target, she was inspired by her work on the Hispanic and Women's Business Councils. With her role at Jacobs and working with the Target supplier diversity team, Signe reached out to Jacobs' leadership to get the ball rolling on certification. Signe explains the one-year process, "It’s an in-depth deep dive to make sure the organization is controlled by women, review of financial documents, and Jackie Gibney (Jacobs President) had an in person interview." Demonstrating courage is a strength for Signe Anderson and her ability to ask and execute made all of this happen.
When Jacobs received the confirmation of certification, Signe and the team were thrilled! "I was so excited! The fact that we are a woman owned business is rare within the vendor rep group community in Minneapolis," says Signe, "we’re starting to see the benefits in the way we work with our clients. The majority of household purchases and decisions are made by women in many categories, so it's only natural that the teams making merchandising and marketing decisions reflect the consumer. Receiving that certification is a visible win and we’re proud of it. It helps us serve the Target guest."
"It feels great to support and represent women in leadership and ownership positions and we hope to support any internal initiatives our partners have in diversity," adds Jacobs President, Jackie Gibney. By including women-owned businesses among their vendors, corporations, and government agencies demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity and the continued development of their supplier/vendor diversity programs. Consumer empathy requires more than understanding your consumers; it’s about connecting with them.