Cornell’s strategic initiatives give diverse suppliers a boost

In September, we reported the fiscal year 2015 Diverse Supplier Engagement goals, which are part of the DFA and CIT Belonging at Cornell initiative. The priority for this effort is identifying all diverse suppliers that provide goods and services to the university and leveraging those relationships to shift spending to those businesses, giving them additional opportunity, as well as increasing Cornell’s compliance with federal and state grant funding requirements. A diverse supplier is typically defined as a business owned by a woman, veteran, or minority, or any combination of these qualifiers.

One contributing effort to this program is the Supplier Diversity Initiative, which aims to help diverse suppliers develop stronger relationships with customers on campus. Each year, Procurement Services chooses a handful of these suppliers based on their successful track record of working with the campus, and helps to further introduce them to campus through a series of meetings and events. Last year, 12 suppliers participated, and suppliers reported combined increases in revenues by over $1 million. This year, six suppliers were added to the program. Kickoff meetings and a few department events have already occurred this fiscal year. Quarterly and annual meetings are scheduled for later this year, and these suppliers will be among other diverse businesses highlighted at this year’s supplier show in June.

Through the Supplier Diversity Initiative, Cornell has increased overall spending with diverse suppliers by more than $4 million since the project began in 2012. Last fiscal year, Procurement Services introduced a project to help businesses even further. The New York State (NYS) Diverse Supplier Certification Workshop, hosted in June 2014, trained business owners to complete and submit the complex NYS forms required for certification as minority- and woman-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). NYS certification helps businesses economically by allowing them to participate in state contracts, which assists Cornell to qualify for state-funded grants. Suppliers who were unable to attend the workshop can get presentation materials on the Procurement Services website.

Another project connected with the Supplier Diversity Initiative is the collaboration between Procurement Services and the Big Red Consultants (BRC) at the Johnson Graduate School of Management (JGSM). We reported on this project in July last year. The BRC, comprising JGSM students, works with diverse suppliers to evaluate business objectives and recommend improvements to boost efficiency and revenue.

This year’s projects will occur in two phases. For phase one, the BRC will evaluate and make recommendations for a new set of suppliers. For phase two, the BRC will conduct follow-up projects with some of last year’s participants. These projects will be completed in April and culminate with a presentation to the dean of the JGSM and other vice presidents, faculty, and guests.

With the success of these projects, the diverse supplier engagement effort is quickly becoming adopted campus wide. Twelve departments have decided to include increased focus on spending with diverse suppliers as part of their Belonging at Cornell  initiatives. Procurement Services works with departments interested in this effort to inform decisions and integrate new practices. If you are interested in more information, contact Cindy Jefferson at (607) 255-2641.