Targeted Engagement and Projects Bring Growth for Diverse Suppliers

Final presentations at an event held Friday, May 5, concluded this year’s collaborations between the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management’s (JGSM) Big Red Consulting (BRC) teams and a select group of Cornell’s diverse suppliers. Finance directors, associate vice presidents, deans, and Executive Vice President and CFO Joanne DeStefano attended this annual event. Four suppliers participated in this year’s projects: The Computing Center, Laboratory Product Sales, Stovroff Taylor Travel, and Roberts Office Interiors. The BRC consulting collaboration is part of the Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion’s (ADI) Diverse Supplier Engagement effort.

The BRC teams, comprising graduate students and directors, each year work on projects that help diverse suppliers grow their businesses by addressing their potentials for improvements and revenue increases. The graduate students participating in the program come from JGSM, ILR, and Engineering. Projects are selected that align suppliers’ needs with the skill sets of these students. The successful results of these efforts are evident in the suppliers’ feedback about the projects, as noted in the Cornell Chronicle article, Grad students offer diverse suppliers a better shot at growth.

These projects usually begin with an October kickoff meeting between suppliers and the students, where the parties discuss the projects and agree to project terms. Contracts are signed in the following weeks, and project deliverables are agreed upon by the month of December. Teams work with suppliers through the spring semester and present their findings at the wrap-up event mid-spring.

Also part of the Diverse Supplier Engagement effort is the Supplier Diversity Program administered by Cornell Procurement and Payment Services (Procurement). This program helps diverse suppliers develop stronger relationships with customers on campus, and thereby increase sales to campus. Each year, Procurement meets with a group of diverse suppliers, who are targeted based on their past successes in working with the campus and helps to introduce those suppliers to even more potential customers through meetings and special events. This fiscal year, 17 diverse suppliers were selected, including one LGBTQ-owned business. In December, Procurement began efforts to locate more LGBTQ-owned businesses to participate, particularly those who sell commodities not being sold by other diverse suppliers in the program. Ten potential candidates have been located so far.

All of the targeted diverse suppliers provided their sales goals for fiscal year 2017, and all of the growth goals and plans for achieving the goals were solidified by February 2017. Typically, Cornell’s spending with these targeted diverse suppliers has grown by approximately $1 million each year. The total of the increase in spending for fiscal year 2016 was over $1 million. Based on the projections, growth is expected to exceed $1 million in fiscal year 2017. The growth outcomes of the campus spending for this fiscal year will be available in August and campus units will receive specific reports of their diverse supplier activity at that time.