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North Hills Monthly

Promoting Diversity Key to Advance Sourcing Concepts’ Success

Apr 30, 2019 09:59AM ● By Vanessa Orr

The staff at Advance Sourcing Concepts LLC. Front: row: Sade Valderrama, Colleen Schell Back Row: Marianne McCloskey, Sherry Long Stevens, Judith Bernhard, Darci Faiello, Tina Siers

To run a successful business, you need to have the right people. And that means hiring a diverse workforce that will bring different skill sets to the table. 

“In business, human capital is the largest cost, the source of most of its challenges, and the strongest driver of business success,” said Judith Bernhard, founder of Advance Sourcing Concepts (ASC). “And it’s our mission to match great people with great companies.”

As the owner of a Certified Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE), Bernhard understands the importance of seeking out employees of different backgrounds who have varied areas of expertise. 

“Diversity is a key component of our internal culture and of the talent pool that we seek,” she explained, adding that the ASC team includes people with master’s degrees in business and human resources, a nurse practitioner, a human resources manager and four staff with military backgrounds. 

The executive search and staffing firm, which specializes in business support, medical staffing, manufacturing and government contracts, takes great pride in finding the right person for each position. One way in which they do this is through online testing and training programs, which help to determine which candidates are right for the job. It also allows candidates who may need further training to brush up on their skills.

“What we do is not just a matter of reviewing resumes; we have more than 1,000 test modules to help determine a candidate’s strengths,” said Bernhard.

ASC has a special interest in helping companies connect with qualified veterans and utilizes Army veteran Ray Luppe to serve as a liaison between the two. “Ray travels to military bases and veterans’ events to recruit candidates, and he also helps them transition their resumes from military speak to corporate speak so that our clients don’t have to decipher unfamiliar terms,” said Bernhard. 

In response to client demand, ASC recently expanded its footprint in the Tristate area, adding two staff members to work with clients in West Virginia. The company will be opening a second office near Charleston, WV, this summer. ASC has also introduced a new, biweekly talent scout report that is distributed for free to interested companies. 

“Similar to the Steelers’ scouting report, we list outstanding candidates we’ve found who may be of interest to local businesses,” said Bernhard. “These reports may include talented people that might not have their resumes out in public for confidentiality reasons.”

A firm believer in relationship-building, Bernhard forms partnerships with a variety of businesses to provide the resources that her clients need. This includes working closely with numerous organizations, such as the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania and the Women’s Business Enterprise Center, as well as the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber, Salvation Army, Pittsburgh Human Resources Association, and the American Staffing Association, to name a few.

“As one of our supporting members, Judith comes to our workshops and other events because she believes in our goal of bringing small businesses together to improve the economic environment of our region,” said Doris Carson Williams, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania (AACCWP). 

The full-service chamber, which is the 10th largest chamber of commerce in the region, has 560 members, 78 percent of whom are African Americans. Now celebrating its 20th year, the majority of its members are small businesses with revenues under $250 million who want to move their businesses forward. 

“Through our Business Institute, we provide all of the tools that small business owners need to get to the next level of engagement while strengthening their business acumen so that they can compete in the global marketplace,” said Carson Williams, adding that more than 3,200 people have completed the program. 

The AACCWP also holds power breakfasts each month, as well as other networking events that enable members to get to know each other and provide face time with senior executives. Its annual business luncheon has featured such powerhouse speakers as Paul O’Neill, former CEO of Alcoa and U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Farnam Jahanian, president of Carnegie Mellon University.

Bernhard is also a strong supporter of the Women’s Business Enterprise Center-East (WBEC-East), which opened an office in December in the Riverside Center for Innovation on the North Side. 

“Being a Certified Women-Owned Business has been a tremendous support to us in gaining credibility with large companies,” said Bernhard. “It provides us with a business advantage not just locally, but throughout the country.”

“Certification opens doors that women business owners may not have even realized were closed to them,” said Liz Walsh, president, WBEC-East, “including in Fortune 500 companies and in the federal government, as well as at any business that has adopted a healthy supplier diversity program.”

While it is a very valuable certification, it is not easy to earn. Fourteen organizations provide the designation, which certifies that a business is 51 percent woman-owned, operated and controlled.

“The certification process is not for the faint of heart; it requires that a business provides a lot of documentation,” said Walsh. “But it definitely elevates a company’s validity to have this third-party verification.”

In addition to being able to use the WBE logo, business that are certified are also listed on a national database that is continually searched by companies with supplier diversity initiatives. 

“In this current era of recognizing women’s rights and understanding the value of what we bring to the table, many companies are intentionally shopping for women-owned businesses,” said Walsh. 

There are only 15,000 certified women-owned businesses in the United States, including 1,200 in the WBEC’s eastern territory, which includes Pennsylvania, Delaware and eight New Jersey counties. Those 1,200 businesses generate $8 billion in revenue and employ 42,000 people, making it an important part of the region’s economic development. 

WBEC-East also provides other services, including entrepreneurial courses and on-demand learning, as well as hosts Food for Thought, a small group networking breakfast.

“It is our goal to help women-owned businesses throughout their lifecycles, including start-up, stretch, sustain and sunset,” said Walsh.

This fits well with Bernhard’s goal to help people move their careers and their companies forward. “If you were to ask me how to succeed in business, I would say, ‘Hire great people, seek wise counsel, require accountability, say your prayers and forge ahead,” she explained. “That’s how you ADVANCE.”

For more information, contact Advance Sourcing Concepts at 412-415-5090 or visit www.ascpeople.com. Learn more about the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania at  412-392-0610 or www.aaccwp.com, and the Women’s Business Enterprise Center at 877-790-WBEC or www.wbeceast.com.