Associate Vice President of Accounts Payable & Procurement Julie Jones and Director of Supplier Inclusion Allen Riddick at the 2018 Women’s Business Enterprise Center (WBEC) Annual Awards Celebration, where Riddick (right) received the Shining Star award for his support of and commitment to supplier development initiatives. Photo courtesy Julie Jones (left).
2020 saw the start of a global pandemic that greatly weakened or destroyed economic activity, particularly for small and local businesses, as well as a national societal and cultural reevaluation of existing practices and ideas that could be made more diverse, equitable and inclusive —both highlighting the meaningful impact of individual and collective inclusive purchasing power.
As a large institution of higher education in Philadelphia and one of the city’s top 10 largest employers, Drexel University is a major economic engine in the local community. In response to the events of 2020, and to create and strengthen future practices, the University has bolstered its commitment to supporting socially responsible purchasing in the West Philadelphia economy and business ecosystem.
Procurement Services, which works with the University’s academic and administrative units to procure goods and services, boosts the University’s local economic impact. One of the ways it does so is through its Supplier Inclusion Initiative, which develops and supports relationships with diverse businesses, including minority, women, veteran, service-disabled, LGBTQ+ and small businesses.
“Authentic engagement with our business community is everything and means a lot to our department. Local and diverse businesses not only provide excellent products but also bring innovative ideas to our University,” said Director of Supplier Inclusion Allen Riddick.
In 2020, the Supplier Inclusion Initiative and Procurement Services ramped up their efforts internally to work better together and support external business partners. Notably, this included regular webinars and virtual meetings and conferences with Drexel entities, nearby institutions of higher education and local businesses to share and learn from best practices to support the local economy and better partner with anchor institutions like Drexel and their supply chains. For example, a “Doing Business with Drexel” webinar hosted by Accounts Payable & Procurement Services’ Supplier Inclusion and Strategic Sourcing team with the Women’s Business Enterprise Council East connected over 75 local woman-owned businesses to network and learn best engagement practices for working with the University. Additionally, Procurement Services and Drexel’s Black Faculty & Professional Staff Association (BFPSA) hosted a webinar on how BFPSA can support local businesses, with representatives from enterprises like LA21, Supreme Oasis Bakery & Deli, Telrose Corporation and Scoops Promotion discussing available services and opportunities. And in October, Accounts Payable and Procurement Services (in collaboration with the Office of University and Community Partnerships, the LeBow College of Business, and Westphal College of Media Arts & Design) also participated in and hosted events for Philadelphia’s 36th annual Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week, which highlights minority businesses and shares and develops ways in which to support them. You can visit the Procurement website to learn more about the events Procurement hosted and attended in FY2020.
Accounts Payable and Procurement Services at the December 2018 annual holiday toy drive held by Drexel's Office of Government and Community Relations. Photo courtesy Julie Jones.
For its efforts in taking proactive steps in supporting and engaging with minority-owned businesses through a supplier diversity office, unique programs, and leading initiatives, Drexel recently received the INSIGHT Into Diversity Jesse L. Moore 2021 Supplier Diversity Award, a national recognition for institutions of higher education from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest, oldest and only print diversity and inclusion publication in higher education. The award is named for Moore, the first director of supplier diversity at Purdue University and a “longtime advocate and economic development pioneer” who “served as a leader in promoting supplier diversity and the success of minority-owned businesses across a wide range of industries,” according to the publication. Winners were announced in the magazine’s April 2021 issue.
“To even be considered for an award bearing the name of a supplier diversity pioneer such as Jesse L. Moore is an honor,” said Associate Vice President of Accounts Payable & Procurement Services Julie Jones. “My work in this field does not span Mr. Moore’s 35 years, but in my 15 years I have seen the struggle to go from 'checking boxes' to meaningful engagement. It is my hope that through awards such as this, institutions of higher education (and others) will be inspired, motivated, or even shamed, into doing what we should have been doing all along … ensuring that this is still a land of opportunity for all.”
The award comes at a time when the University is bolstering its commitment to supplier diversity — business practices that tie into Drexel’s Anti-Racism Task Force's Business Practice recommendations and the University’s newly created Strategic Plan. For example, Procurement Services is aiming to collectively increase the University’s diverse spend by at least 5-10% over the next year. Planning for this initiative, and its tracking, will take place over the next few months of FY21 in order to begin in strength for FY22 as the small, local, and diverse businesses located in the City continue to recover from the economic devastation of the pandemic.
“I am proud of what our department has accomplished and excited about creating additional opportunities moving forward. We are fortunate to have strong, supportive leadership in Procurement and an outstanding resource in Allen Riddick to connect my team with potential suppliers,” said Executive Director of Strategic Sourcing and Surplus Dave Collins.