By Ayana Jones
PHILADELPHIA — The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia has launched the Diverse Procurement Collaborative to increase opportunities for small, Black- and brown-owned businesses by partnering with buyers to establish procurement goals.
The collaborative is part of the chamber’s Recharge & Recover PHL initiative, a public-private coalition to devise solutions in response to the global pandemic crisis.
“What it is does is it addresses and solves actually one of the region’s most pressing issues and that is how do we support Black and Brown businesses,” Susan Jacobson, chamber board chair said during an virtual event held to announce the initiative.
“The chamber believes that we can’t truly create a strong, equitable economic recovery without a commitment to those Black and Brown businesses. It’s got to include them,” she said.
The initiative is engaging 100 chamber members and encouraging them to increase their spend with small, Black- and brown-owned businesses within the next two years.
The collaborative seeks to facilitate the exchange of best practices, build a community of business leaders committed to diverse procurement practices, and create accountability through benchmarking.
During the next two years, participating members are invited to increase the diversity of their supplier network and spend with diverse vendors through the following actions: take a baseline assessment, review benchmarks and set goals, exchange best practices, institute fair and equitable procurement practices and track and report progress.
“I’m excited to be a part of this effort because in my 40 years in business I haven’t seen a comprehensive effort like this to engage the corporate community with Black and brown businesses,” said Sam Patterson, chairman of TeleCaas and a chamber partner.
“In order for this region to thrive, all businesses have to participate in the business that is being done. I believe that the Diverse Procurement Collaborative is an important step in expanding opportunities for all people in the Philadelphia area,” he said.
John McAllister, director of facility operations for Wawa, said it made perfect sense for the company to join in.
“I was excited to support this collaborative effort with the leading companies in the region, as my team and I can implement process changes with our sourcing efforts to ensure that we are reaching out to diverse vendors and including them in our events to help drive changes in this area,” he said.
“We’ve been working with many longstanding, large vendors, which is great, but we have an opportunity to expand our vendor network and change how we allocate our business to help more local Black and brown suppliers,” McAllister said. “I’m personally looking forward to building new working relationships with the other business leaders supporting this effort, as well as taking away the best practices for identifying diverse suppliers to help our efforts.”
The chamber is partnering with various organizations on the effort including the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, Asian American Chamber of Philadelphia, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Economy League of Philadelphia, Independence Business Alliance and PIDC.
“Since its founding in 1993, the African American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ and DE has continually worked to advocate for a more equitable and prosperous region, one in which every business has the opportunity to compete fairly and fully for public and private contracts,” Regina Hairston, president and CEO of the AACC said in a news release.
“That is why we are happy to support the Diverse Procurement Collaborative, as it will help hold companies accountable to their commitment of expanding their diverse supplier networks and awarding more contracts to Black- and Brown-owned businesses.”
Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.