March 24, 2005--The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) released its list of America's top corporations for women's business enterprises on Wednesday. Newcomers to this year's list include Altria, BellSouth Corporation, Eastman Kodak, Merrill Lynch, and Pfizer, Inc. Ten other companies that made the list are alumni from last year: AT&T, Cendant Car Rental Group, Chevron Texaco, IBM Corporation, Office Depot, Inc., PepsiCo, Inc., SBC Communications, Shell Oil Company, TXU and UPS.

WBENC's goal is to improve market opportunities for women-owned businesses as vendors and suppliers to the nation's top corporations. Corporations honored on the list ensure, through special programs, that women-owned businesses gain equal access to their companies, versus those owned by men.

According to Tom Peters, an expert in organizational effectiveness, and author of Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age: "Women make up 51% of the population, and own 32% of the businesses in the U.S. They also spend $3.7 trillion a year, making them the largest consumer nation in the world. Yet women-owned businesses win less than 3% of the contracts from major corporations and the federal government."

Companies who wish to sell to that female consumer nation, Peters suggests, will have a better chance to do so when they acknowledge women -- in the workplace, in the boardroom and as their suppliers.