Woman rolling dough in a bakery
Doreen Chin of Sweet Productions, a minority/woman-owned bakery.

Suppliers play a critical role in enabling the university to realize its mission and live its values.

Given the critical role of the supplier and Stanford's decentralized purchasing approach which allows individual departments to make purchasing decisions that are tailored to their specific needs and goals, Financial Management Services (FMS) has established an initiative to develop a pilot, and eventually implement a university-wide program, that will expand and continuously improve the integration of exceptional and diverse suppliers, contractors, service providers, and business partners into the execution of the institution’s mission.

The importance of a diverse supplier base

A robust, competitive, and diverse supplier base is essential to power the university and offers greater agility, innovation, and value. Maintaining an effective university supplier base requires analyzing and planning for the needs of the university now and into the future. This means integrating practices that successfully recruit, onboard, and maintain productive partnerships with a diverse set of suppliers. To that end, this initiative will integrate best practices into procurement processes, implement resources to support schools and units to make informed purchasing decisions, engage with other organizations, and seek ways to make it easier for more suppliers to do business with the university.

Discovery and findings

In 2023, FMS completed its discovery stage of the initiative in order to understand the current state of diversity within the university’s current supplier base, reached out to peer institutions to learn about their programs, and partnered with a consultant to survey and engage with university stakeholders. The findings of this assessment included broad enthusiasm among the participants for a formalized supplier diversity program at Stanford and an eagerness for more resources, improved processes, and the organizational structures to build on current successes to move forward.

Pilot and program formalization

To do just that, FMS is moving into the pilot stage, which is co-sponsored by the Office of Institutional Equity, Access and Community in order to align with and advance efforts with the university’s IDEAL initiative. The pilot stage will involve partnering directly with schools and units to test new tools and practices that could be implemented university-wide. These include new search tools to source excellent diverse suppliers, access to workshops and educational opportunities, and participation in working groups to provide feedback and guidance to the initiative sponsors. The lessons learned from the pilot will be incorporated into a comprehensive university-wide program, as well as being shared throughout the pilot with the broader supplier diversity stakeholder community.

Looking ahead

Next up for this initiative is the formation of the needed organizational structures and working groups to establish university-wide best practices and facilitate decision-making and engagement. Select university champions, composed of leaders across Stanford, will provide high level strategic direction for the program. The supplier diversity team will form and lead a Supplier Diversity Center of Excellence and seek regular input from Stanford schools and business units. Finally, aligning these efforts with Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) efforts and governance/engagement model with the Office of Sustainability and Scope 3 Program Office is underway.

Learn more and get engaged

The ultimate goal of this initiative is to increase the ability of departments to make informed decisions about their purchasing needs by providing centralized support and necessary infrastructure. Stay tuned to this news page for more information as it becomes available. In the meantime contact the Supplier Diversity team for assistance with identifying diverse suppliers and getting engaged with the program @email.

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In the spotlight: Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE)

Two male African American farmers inspecting crops

One outstanding program currently underway at the university is Stanford R&DE’s Equitable Harvest initiative. This award-winning Sustainable Food Program collaborates on many aspects of complex global food systems.

One of the program’s aspects includes leveraging institutional purchasing power to help reverse the disappearance of Black farms. Stanford has a particular interest in those farmers who are growing legumes, grains, produce, and other healthy, delicious, immune-supporting ingredients that are ingrained in the cultural heritage and cuisines of the African (Black) diaspora.

The vision includes developing and disseminating toolkits widely among both Black farmers and college and university foodservice leaders, so that the model can be scaled across the campus dining sector.

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