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A multi-unit group supporting Cornell University's institutional diversity planning initiative.

Progress and outreach on diverse supplier engagement strategy

One of the five annual goals of the DFA and CIT Diversity initiative is to enhance awareness of and interaction with diverse suppliers. Diverse suppliers include woman-owned, veteran-owned, and minority-owned businesses. To increase interaction with diverse suppliers, during fiscal year 2013, Procurement Services along with campus departments and senior executives defined strategies for collecting data, reporting on dollars spent with diverse suppliers, measuring supplier commitment to social responsibility, and finding methods to increase Cornell’s spending with these vendors.

A completed collection of baseline data  shows that, based on dollars spent, about 9% of Cornell’s suppliers are diverse. The university spends approximately $16.1 million annually with diverse suppliers.

To gauge campus’ awareness of the diverse suppliers, a team of students at the Johnson Graduate School of Management worked with Procurement Services  to conduct a survey, which indicated that most people purchase items based on price, and:

  • 68% of respondents are unaware of any university support for diverse suppliers
  • 67% of respondents are unaware of which diverse suppliers the university supports

Based on the low awareness revealed in the survey, a communications and outreach strategy was implemented to push news about these suppliers using the following avenues:

  • President Skorton’s  May 1, 2013 update on the university-wide diversity effort, Toward New Destinations
  • A diverse supplier section of the Procurement Services website, and highlighting diverse suppliers in both e-SHOP and the Procurement Gateway, which was rolled out in June 2013 after testing in several units.
  • Identifying thirteen suppliers with approximately $5 million in spend (about 30% of the current diverse supplier spend) with whom to work closely on increasing awareness on campus. This effort is well under way and was highlighted through a new event, a diverse supplier event which was held on May 16.  These suppliers also participated in the Supplier Show on June 13.

These strategies will set the stage for fiscal year 2014 campus-wide diversity goal planning. As we enter the new fiscal year, specific diverse spending data is being shared with the Senior Finance Group, which includes college officers and the Senior Business Group, with the request that they adopt this as one of their units’ Toward New Destinations goals.

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