Supplier Diversity & Inclusion Program

Penn Launches Fueling Business Growth

Fueling Business Growth logo

On July 28, the University of Pennsylvania launched the Fueling Business Growth campaign, a new supplier diversity and inclusion initiative strategically enhancing a long-held priority to provide local, diverse, and minority-owned enterprises with increased opportunities to conduct business with Penn. 

Fueling Business Growth proactively incorporates best practices to leverage Penn’s purchasing power to generate economic impact with greater equity and access. The campaign is tied to a multi-faceted action plan aimed at increasing engagement and outreach, enhancing tools and reporting, strengthening relationships with diverse and minority-owned businesses, and expanding access to resources. “This initiative’s goal is to spur economic development in Philadelphia,” said Penn’s Senior Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli. 

“Philadelphia is a minority-majority city, yet its percentage of businesses owned by minorities is small. Boosting commercial activity with these businesses is a social imperative that can increase their financial strength in the local economy, and that comes through strategic leadership. Our intent with the Fueling Business Growth initiative is increasing Penn’s spending among and engagement with the diverse and minority business enterprises of Philadelphia.”

The program is administered by Penn Procurement Services, the University’s central procurement department. Chief Procurement Officer Mark Mills said, “With the Fueling Business Growth campaign, we are working with the Penn buying community to bridge relationships and raise awareness of helpful tools and resources to support localized efforts to increase diversity spend across the University.” Local, diverse, and minority-owned business procurement has been a top priority for Penn since 1986 when the University launched its inaugural effort known as Buy West Philadelphia.  

Among those resources is a new website featuring information about Penn’s Supplier Diversity & Inclusion program for suppliers, profiles of current Penn suppliers, and a sophisticated Supplier Search tool for Penn Buyers. The search tool allows anyone at Penn to identify suppliers based on various criteria, including diversity. “Penn Procurement Services developed this centrally managed tool to bring rich information to Penn’s large, decentralized buying community,” said Mills. “There are more than 1,000 buyers at Penn and many more who influence purchase decisions. This tool provides that network with a reliable database of vetted suppliers and helps empower anyone with purchasing to engage directly with new suppliers as they diversify their spend.”  

Fueling Business Growth also features information sessions and events for buyers and suppliers to network and for diverse and minority-owned business enterprises to familiarize themselves with Penn’s systems and business processes. The Fueling Business Growth initiative includes an advanced data analytics component with a sophisticated diverse supplier recommendation engine, which offers system-generated, diverse supplier considerations that are specific to a School or Center at Penn. The output from this tool is provided as part of a customized spend analytics package shared annually with financial leaders across the University. 

“We challenge the Procurement Services team to leverage procurement data and find innovative ways to turn it into actionable information for the buying community,” said Vice President of the Business Services Division Marie Witt. “The recommendation engine is an example of a new and evolving tool that is just one more way we can assist our decentralized procurement community in their efforts to buy diversely.” 

In addition, the data analytics module offers each buyer at Penn with a scorecard, and other interpretive services, that provide insights into their performances in diversifying their spend.

“If Penn is asking its buyers and business leaders to drive local economic development through local and diverse spending, the University must also provide the associated analytical tools,” Carnaroli said. “I come from the school of ‘we can only manage what we can measure.’ This campaign is focused on generating more economic opportunity among diverse and minority businesses enterprises, and it is also about supporting our buyers and business leaders regarding the critical importance of how increasing our diversity spend is good business for Penn and Philadelphia.”