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Commitment to Diversity Extends to Suppliers

Supplier Diversity Symposium unites purchasers, diverse professional services vendors

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June 26, 2012 | by Wendy Leopold
Illinois Deputy Governor Cristal Thomas addressed the Supplier Diversity Symposium. She called the event "an example of how Northwestern can take an idea, run with it and make it bigger and better."

EVANSTON, Ill. --- An event designed to bring together key purchasing decision makers with best-in-class minority-owned, women-owned, disadvantaged and locally based professional service firms took place June 26 at Northwestern University.

The Supplier Diversity Symposium for Professional Services – which featured remarks by Illinois Deputy Governor Cristal Thomas -- was organized by the University’s purchasing department and co-hosted by the City of Evanston, NorthShore University HealthSystem and Evanston Township High School District 202.

Eugene Sunshine, senior vice president of business and finance, introduced the Illinois deputy governor to symposium participants. He emphasized that the program boasted “a good assortment of institutions” and “was the result of a conversation between Governor Pat Quinn and Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro.”

The event aligned with other strategic priorities of the University. “An important part of the University’s strategic plan is to give our students, faculty and staff the tools to grow stronger through the richness of diversity,” said Sunshine. “It reflects Northwestern’s commitment to diversity not only in the classroom but also in the purchasing and business decisions we make.”

This year’s symposium was a departure from University supplier diversity events of the past, according to Jim Konrad, director of purchasing. “For the first time, we presented five carefully selected businesses in specific professional services areas.” Those services were information technology, asset management, financial services, human resources and marketing and communication.

“One of our primary responsibilities in Purchasing Resource Services is to identify quality vendors and provide them with an opportunity to do business with Northwestern University,” said Konrad. “The Supplier Diversity Symposium for Professional Services represents one additional way in which we are doing that.”

The symposium provided opportunities for purchasing decision makers to participate in one-on-one conversations and to network with suppliers. In addition, chief officers or high level representatives of each of the five suppliers in each category made presentations about their services to symposium participants.

“This event is providing strategically selected small businesses with a proven track record an opportunity to partner with buyers from Northwestern, the City of Evanston, the high school and NorthShore University Health System,” said Norma J. Williams, founder and chief alignment officer of NJW Associates. The Chicago-based NJW Associates is one of Chicago’s oldest female- and minority-owned human capital and outsourcing services company.

Officials from the Office of the Governor of Illinois, City of Evanston Mayor’s Office, and Evanston aldermen and School Board members were in attendance. The Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council, Women’s Business Development Center, Chicago Urban League and Evanston Chamber of Commerce also participated.

Topics: University