A top company for women’s business enterprises, Verizon has an EDGE

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Genia Wilbourn accepting the Top Corporations award on behalf of Verizon at the 2018 WBENC Summit and Salute.

Innovation, agility and fresh perspectives are a few of the reasons supplier diversity helps give us an edge. So it’s only fitting that a new mentorship program called EDGE is helping to strengthen our award-winning Supplier Diversity program. 

In fact, innovative programs like EDGE are part of the reason Verizon’s Supplier Diversity program was recognized in 2018 as one of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s (WBENC) Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises.

EDGE (Educate, Develop, Grow and Enrich)

EDGE is a pilot program that matches high-potential diverse suppliers with Verizon executive leaders to help mentees grow their business, and it further strengthens our commitment to supplier diversity.

The program starts with a rigorous selection process to identify the right suppliers. Once selected, they work side-by-side with a Verizon executive leader to develop their leadership capabilities and create opportunities for increased visibility, internal and external to Verizon.

Smaller diverse suppliers are more agile and can innovate a lot quicker.

Genia Wilbourn, Verizon employee and EDGE mentor

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A conversation with EDGE mentor Genia Wilbourn

Genia Wilbourn, Wireline Network leader and EDGE mentor, experienced firsthand the value of EDGE, with some unexpected perks. 

Genia is mentoring Kym Koch, CEO of Tripwireless, a network and wireless infrastructure supplier.

The following quotes come from a question and answer session we held with Genia about her experience with EDGE.

How does EDGE provide value? 

GENIA: Kym had not been exposed to the wireline side of the business prior to EDGE, so I can help her navigate that. As her mentor, I learned more about her business and the challenges she faced and was able to share best practices that she can use herself. And as she was describing her business model, my wheels immediately started turning. She has a niche that helped fill a gap in my business plan. She is now working on a pilot project to help my organization. This never would have happened if it wasn’t for this program.

How have you learned from the program? 

GENIA: I have responsibility for my organization but I am not a CEO. Kym is. So her perspective and lens as CEO is different. Having this relationship with her through EDGE, I am learning some different leadership capabilities, something I was not expecting when I walked into this.

How does EDGE support our commitment to supplier diversity and how does it benefit Verizon overall?  

GENIA: Smaller diverse suppliers are more agile and can innovate a lot quicker. When these suppliers have a niche, they can be highly competitive. This program also shows how committed we are to economic growth in our communities. When we contract out to smaller women-owned or minority businesses, it has a profound effect on the communities we serve. Lastly, when we establish relationships with these suppliers we can penetrate new markets and grow our customer base.

Will you continue to be involved in EDGE? 

GENIA: If possible, yes. This is a great avenue for me to stay connected to the supplier diversity program as well as uncover new solutions. I am a woman in technology and would like nothing more than to help other women, especially those that own their own business in technology.

Mentee Kym Koch shared somethoughts about EDGE as well 

KYM: Genia has been a wonderful mentor and has helped me work through some of the challenges within my company. Her suggestions and ideas have been put into action which has really changed some of the dynamics in our workplace. I value my time talking with her as I find Genia’s experience and wisdom extremely helpful in growing my company.

EDGE officially launches this September.

The EDGE pilot is only halfway complete and it’s already a success. The official launch will be in September, when EDGE will welcome new mentors and mentees.

If you are a diverse supplier, information on how to apply to the EDGE program will be available on the Supplier Diversity website.

Supplier Diversity is a part of Global Diversity and Inclusion.

Learn more about Verizon’s supplier diversity program