Diversity means business

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Session recap

Diversity opens doors, value follows

Corporate initiatives to encourage diversity and inclusiveness have opened the door for many women- and minority-owned businesses. Delivering sustainable value is the key to continued success for those organizations. That’s what panelists said at the Wednesday session “Diversity means business” at the Forum.

Moderated by Karyn Twaronite, Americas Inclusiveness Officer, Ernst & Young, the panel featured two successful diversity-led partnerships: Javara Perrilliat, Vice President, Global Supply Management for Owens & Minor, with William “Joe” Reubel, President/Chief Executive Officer, Kerma Medical Products, Inc.; and Keith Connolly, Vice President – Consumer Supply Chain, AT&T Services, Inc., with Jessica Firestone, President & CEO, Tempest Telecom Solutions LLC.

Beyond diversity
“Diversity gets you into the door,” said Reubel, describing Kerma’s business partnership with Owens & Minor, a major supplier of health care products to hospitals. “But then you have to explain your value-added proposition, and get to know your customer,” he said. ”Because if you’re not helping your customer gain additional revenue, then the relationship is not sustainable.”

From Owens & Minor’s perspective, the relationship with Kerma enabled them to deepen their relationships with community and nonprofit hospitals. For AT&T, the partnership with Tempest was driven by the company’s mandate to source 21.5% of its equipment from diversity-owned suppliers. The partnership with Tempest blossomed when the woman-owned business helped AT&T to build out a mobile network through its experience as a supplier in Radio Access Networks.

“AT&T also gave us guidance on what they needed, so we went out and bought a company with experience in Distributed Antenna Systems,” Firestone said. “The telecommunications industry has been a leader in the diversity space,” she said, “but you still have to provide quality services, be financially strong and prove you can support your customer over the long term. We’ve been very careful about how we’ve built our reputation with our customers.”


Javara Perrilliat photo

Javara Perrilliat
Vice President, Global Supply Management
Owens & Minor

William “Joe” Reubel photo

William “Joe” Reubel
Kerma Medical Products, Inc.

Jessica Firestone photo

Jessica Firestone
President & CEO
Tempest Telecom Solutions LLC

Sam Johnson photo

Sam Johnson
Northeast Sub-Area Accounts & Business Development Managing Partner
Ernst & Young LLP

Keith Connolly photo

Keith Connolly
Vice President – Consumer Supply Chain
AT&T Services, Inc.


Karyn Twaronite photo

Karyn Twaronite
Americas Inclusiveness Officer
Ernst & Young LLP