Minority-owned businesses shape the University of Miami

Minority-owned businesses shape the University of Miami

By Jennifer Palma Sanchez

Minority-owned businesses shape the University of Miami

By Jennifer Palma Sanchez
Experts from the University’s purchasing department and UHealth’s supply chain services offer advice and mentoring through the Human Resources’ supplier diversity program to support establishments in the community.


From life-saving medical equipment and PPE to sustainable paper and office supplies, the University of Miami’s purchasing and supply chain management departments oversee all bids, contracts, vendors, and suppliers to ensure each item purchased by the university and health system is maximized in terms of quality, value, service, and integrity. While business transactions may be at the forefront of their work, the departments also forge relationships with local minority-owned businesses who are interested in working with the University. To align with the University’s mission of fostering a diverse and inclusive community, the Human Resources’ (HR) supplier diversity program, also referred to as the business development outreach program, continues to expandultimately finding new ways to introduce innovative products and local business to the U.

The following information outlines how minority-owned businesses continue to shape the University of Miami.

What is supplier diversity?
By connecting with local and minority-owned businesses, the University is able to create a pool of vendors and suppliers who may not have opportunities to promote their services on a large scale. Relationships with local and minority vendors are developed through mentorship programs, networking events, and traditional procurement contracts. Each of these avenues provides opportunities for the University to connect with the South Florida community, ultimately fueling the local economy and building upon the diverse and inclusive work environment.

“We recognize the importance of having a diverse supplier base that reflects the demographics of our community. The University’s supplier diversity program creates a more inclusive procurement environment with a network of minority-owned business partners. Encouraging our buyers to use minority-owned businesses widens our vendor pool which increases competition and creativity in the products, services, and solutions these companies offer,” said Beverly Pruitt, assistant vice president for HR’s Office of Workplace Equity and Inclusion.

How does the University support minority-owned businesses?
As part of the University’s commitment to supplier diversity, employees with expertise in business development and supply chain management serve as mentors to local and minority owned businesses through the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council (FSMSDC). Additionally, the University hosts networking events and business training opportunities throughout the year, often inviting other large organizations to join as partners. Each of these outreach opportunities promotes interaction between local business owners and some of South Florida’s largest employers.

“As a mentor through FSMSDC’s mentor/protege program, I was able to work with local and minority-owned businesses where the CEO is often tasked with making major business decisions on their own,” shared Amy Lopez-Welch, executive director of strategic sourcing for UHealth Supply Chain Services. “University of Miami mentors, like myself, are able to provide advice regarding anything from hiring issues to sales strategies.”

Supplier diversity creates a pipeline for innovation.
In addition to supporting the University of Miami’s mission of creating an inclusive culture where everyone is valued and has the opportunity to add value, the benefits of working with diverse suppliers are multifaceted.

“By working with diverse suppliers, many who are established in the local community, we are able to create a pipeline to new ideas and innovative products and services,” shared Aniette Lauredo, manager for HR’s office of workplace, equity, and inclusion. “Without creating a space for these businesses, we may never be exposed to the great work they do.”

Lauredo also explained that as one of South Florida’s largest employers, the University is positioned to play an important role within our local economy by taking part in the give-and-take ecosystem.

“The vendors that come to the University through HR’s supplier diversity program are required to meet the same standards of other suppliers. By inviting local minority-owned businesses into the conversation, and by offering mentorship and networking opportunities, we’re removing barriers but we’re also on the receiving end of exceptional products and services of locally-owned businesses,” said Lauredo.

Extending community support—virtually.
While in-person networking has been one of the ways that the supplier diversity program helped to bridge conversations and make connections with business owners, the team continues to find new ways to offer support. As recent participants in an FSMSDC’s virtual health care matchmaker event, Lopez-Welch represented UHealth and shared insight into recent changes and current challenges that are part of the current health care landscape. Speaking directly to minority business owners, she shed light on the current needs of the health system and provided guidance for those who are interested in creating new opportunities.

“The diversity and inclusion space isn’t about competition. Our community understands the importance of sharing time, resources, and information. We’re all in this together,” added Lauredo.

Learn more about the University of Miami’s business development program and diversity and inclusion initiatives through HR’s Office of Workplace Equity and Inclusion.