Diverse suppliers create an inclusive community

Diverse suppliers create an inclusive community

By Jennifer Palma Sanchez

Diverse suppliers create an inclusive community

By Jennifer Palma Sanchez

When University President Julio Frenk reaffirmed his commitment to racial and ethnic equality within the University community and beyond, he tasked leaders to think differently about the ways that the organization measures and implements change. As part of his 15-point plan, Frenk noted that every operation within the University—including purchasing and investments—would be required to hold business partners and ourselves accountable.

At the heart of the University’s business operations is a team of staff members who manage all purchases of services and supplies—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.

For decades, this dedicated team has worked with Human Resources to advance the hiring of women and minority-owned suppliers as part of the procurement process. Over the years, through a structured Business Development Program, countless opportunities have been created to support small, minority-owned businesses, many within the South Florida community.

What is supplier diversity at the University of Miami?.

“At the University of Miami, our culture of belonging doesn’t apply to just faculty, staff, and students; it extends to everyone we interact with, including our vendors. The Business Development Program has enabled us to be responsive to the needs of our diverse vendors, so they know that they are welcomed and encouraged to do business with the University,” said Beverly Pruitt, assistant vice president and Title IX Coordinator, Workplace Equity and Inclusion.

Today, teams from across all campuses continue to push boundaries by setting new goals and standards to ensure their work is aiding in the growth of minority business participation to support economic inclusion.

“Through procurement policies, engagement, and bidding opportunities with minority business enterprises, the University can amplify its positive impact on businesses within our community and beyond,” shared Brandon Gilliland, vice president and chief financial officer. “Creating a launchpad and support system for minority-owned businesses has always been a priority, but we also know there is more work to be done,” he added.

To expand supplier diversity at the University, Gilliland and team shared increased measures and tactics to ensure that minority suppliers have increased access to business opportunities with the University. In fact, during the next five years, the University has committed to doubling its minority supplier spending. As Gilliland noted, “this expansion not only supports racial justice but truly represents a win-win as our minority suppliers are committed and passionate to provide the highest level of quality to support the University and its mission.” 

“At UHealth our supply chain is critical in keeping the health system running safely and efficiently every day,” said Ray Coto, vice president and chief financial officer for UHealth. “As part of the University’s collaborative team, we are committed to expanding relationships with, and providing opportunities for, diverse and underutilized suppliers.”  

In order to make significant strides, the team has evaluated its current pipeline programs. By focusing on ways to increase and improve mentorship opportunities, minority business owners will have greater support when learning to navigate procurement processes, ultimately encouraging their participation in bidding. Additionally, the team will work to broaden its outreach efforts to include University leaders and the members of the Miami community, encouraging others to embrace supplier diversity in new ways while creating a cultural shift within various industries.

“Our team has taken a holistic approach to developing a supplier diversity life cycle to ensure we are consistently engaging with minority-owned businesses and measuring our progress,” said Gilliland. “An increased focus on how we work with our suppliers is essential to the University’s commitment to racial justice. Each action-item is necessary to provide the ultimate level of support that is needed for business owners in our community and beyond.”

Learn more about how the University of Miami’s Business Development Program supports diverse suppliers and vendors from the Miami community and beyond.