Supplier Diversification at Seattle University

Seattle University is committed to increasing the diversity of its suppliers to move toward a more sustainable, inclusive local economy. While the COVID pandemic has exacerbated challenges, it has also brought an opportunity to respond to the disruption with a focus on equity. Seattle U wants to lead a paradigm shift in how local large institutions do business. Beyond supplier diversity best practices, Seattle University specifically intends to address the gap between businesses in the local Black community and our procurement pipeline. By increasing both business capacity and dollars spent locally, we can build the strength and breadth of diverse local businesses, increase equity, and create a more resilient and integrated community.

An Investment in our Community

In fall 2019, local community leaders including Wyking Garrett (Africatown Community Land Trust) and Ms. Evelyn Allen (Black Community Impact Alliance) called up Seattle University to invest in the Black community by intentionally purchasing goods and services from BIPOC-owned local businesses. We are responding to the call enthusiastically.

Seattle University is located in the heart of the city, between Seattle's booming downtown and the nearby historic neighborhoods suffering from gentrification and displacement.  Through programs at the Sundborg Center for Community Engagement and Albers Resouce Amplication & Management Program (RAMP.up), Seattle University is committed to engaging and serving our diverse community neighbors in the Central District and Chinatown/International District. 

  • See the the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project Segregated Seattle website for more information about Seattle's history of  segregation, redlining, racial covenents, and community displacement

What is Supplier Diversity?

Supplier diversity is a business practice that prioritizes an organization’s commitment to diversity through the intentional use of businesses whose owners are typically marginalized and historically underutilized.  Supplier diversity initiatives are increasingly implemented at many businesses, organizations, and government agencies.  Research has shown the social and economic benefits of these programs for both purchasers and business providers (Bateman, Barrington and Date, 2020).

What is a Diverse Supplier?

Seattle University considers diverse businesses to be those owned by individuals who identify as:

  • Black
  • Indigenous
  • Person of Color
  • Service Disabled Veteran
  • Veteran
  • Woman

Initiative Background

Seattle University recently received a $750,000 grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation to launch the Supplier Diversification Program which will guide the university-wide supplier diversity effort with an initial goal to direct ten percent of procurement spending towards diverse businesses by 2025. The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) at the Albers School of Business and Economics, in collaboration with the Sundborg Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and the Seattle University Procurement Office, will lead this effort to increase procurement spending with diverse businesses.


Janie Ng