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Supplier Diversity

Supplier Diversity

Office of Procurement Diversity

The Office of Procurement Diversity oversees Supplier Diversity at the University of Illinois System.

We are committed to vendor diversification by ensuring that diverse businesses (see definition) are included in the University procurement process. The Supplier Diversity Program provides access to procurement opportunities by creating an equitable and competitive business environment through encouraging campus departments to proactively consider qualified certified businesses owned by minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and veterans for their contracting needs.

The State of Illinois declares that it is the public policy of the State to promote and encourage the continuing economic development of minority, women, and persons with disabilities owned businesses and are provided the opportunity to participate in the State's procurement process as both prime and subcontractors.

The Business Enterprise for Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities Act, "BEP ACT", (30 ILCS 575/) establishes that "not less than 20% of the total dollar amount of State contracts, as defined by the Secretary of the Council and approved by the Council, shall be established as a goal to be awarded to businesses owned by minorities, women, and persons with disabilities."

Through the Veterans Business Program (VBP), (30 ILCS 500/45-57) state agencies and universities are encouraged to spend not less than 3% of the total dollar amount of State contracts with VOSBs and SDVOSBs.

What is a Diverse Business?

Diverse BusinessAt least 51% owned and controlled/operated by a U.S. Citizen and one of the following categories or ethnicities:

  • African American
  • Asian American
  • Hispanic
  • Native American
  • Person with a disability
  • Women
  • Service Disabled Veteran*

*Must be Illinois resident and with a home office in Illinois.

Searching for Diverse Vendors

The following Job Aid video shows a process for searching for Diverse Vendors. 

Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE)

Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE) is an initiative sponsored by UIC's Chancellor Michael Amiridis. Local CASE Anchors such as the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, Rush University, City of Chicago and Cook County collaborate to foster strategic relationships with small businesses who can supply their needs to build economic vitality across Chicago's neighborhoods.

CASE Overview Video from Mimi Productions Chicago Video on Vimeo.

UI's first Diverse Business Opportunity Fair set May 18

News Gazette; Wed, 05/02/2018 -  | Julie Wurth


CHAMPAIGN — A first-ever campus business fair designed to expand opportunities for companies owned by minorities, women, veterans and people with disabilities is scheduled for later this month at the University of Illinois.

The Diverse Business Opportunity Fair, set for May 18 at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign, invites companies to connect with staff members from more than 30 campus units and explore opportunities in all areas of spending, from construction and food services to office and athletic supplies.

University officials said diversity is a priority across all UI operations, and the board of trustees has challenged administrators to develop a supplier program that will be a national model for higher education.

The business fair will be the first to showcase opportunities on a single campus, and similar events are planned at the UI's campuses in Chicago and Springfield. The UI system has held an annual Professional Services Diversity Symposium in Chicago for six years, highlighting system-wide opportunities in specific areas such as architecture, information technology and legal services.

President Tim Killeen said the inaugural business fair is part of an ongoing effort to build new business connections and ensure that the UI's vendor network mirrors the diversity of the state and the nation.

The event, held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and sponsored by the UI System's Office of Procurement Diversity, is open to all businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans and people with disabilities interested in doing business with the UI's flagship campus.

Procurement Diversity Director Sharla Roberts said it's a unique opportunity for businesses to meet decision makers and learn more about the UI's $2 billion in annual spending, from major contracts to smaller emergency purchases.

The fair will be in the Illinois Ballroom at the I Hotel, 1900 S. First St, C. Online registration is strongly encouraged at

In the Spotlight

Highlighting our organization and the work we do is key to learning our business and our customers’ business. This is one way we have remained a valued and trusted advisor.

We are highlighting the Office of Procurement Diversity and their November 2017 Construction Summit, to share how this group and the particular event brings value to the University of Illinois System community. The Office of Procurement Diversity—OPD for short, oversees the Supplier Diversity Program, which is committed to including diverse businesses in the university-wide procurement process. A diverse business is one that is owned by minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and veterans.

OPD holds the Construction Summit every year and is a major event for architects, engineers, design professionals, and contractors to attend workshops and learn how to:

  • Become a successful proposer.
  • Understand the U of I System’s bidding process.
  • Meet the requirements for pre-qualification in Contractor Annual Prequalification System (CAPS).
  • Build relationships with diverse businesses in the System community.

With representation at the event from approximately 110 businesses, it is obvious that supporting one another’s work and striving to achieve similar diversity goals is a priority. However, one of the challenges in supplier diversity is that people don’t think that diverse companies offer the services they need or are used to using the same company over and over. Businesses and university employees must remember to: trust the growth process and keep in mind that in order to grow, they have to seek out diverse companies. Yes, you can still use ABC, but you should also try 123. However, in order to try 123, you must first know about them. Read more...

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