We know that supplier diversity web pages can make a difference; they can open a window into an institution’s procurement process, which is very often seen as complex and confusing by small businesses. Deciding what kinds of information to share (and how to share it) can serve as a way for an institution to listen to the needs of its local diverse business community and demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our latest research report examines to what extent 114 colleges and universities in New England open the window to supplier diversity opportunities.

After analyzing the websites of 114 higher education institutions (HEIs) in New England, we discovered that there is a lack of information available to the public regarding how these institutions acquire good and services.  Despite professed commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion and support for local communities, colleges and universities can do much more to address what we are calling a supplier diversity awareness deficit.

Key takeaways:

  • Despite widespread institutional commitment to diversity, most New England HEIs do very little to promote supplier diversity on their websites.
  • Diverse small businesses often have difficulty learning how to engage with HEIs and do not know where to look for opportunities.
  • The most informative HEI supplier diversity web pages include a range of resources to help DSBs navigate the procurement process.
  • Supplier diversity web pages can significantly strengthen an institution’s outreach to DSBs, as well as promote the benefits of supplier diversity to internal stakeholders.
  • There is an opportunity for HEIs to prioritize transparency in their procurement processes and provide small diverse businesses with a clear window into their practices. This will not only ensure ethical practices, but also build trust and confidence in the institution among stakeholders.