Building Bridges with Small and Diverse Businesses

Publication Date
10/1/2020

VPF recently launched a page on its website that provides information on the Small and Diverse Business Program, which aims to increase MIT’s engagement with small businesses and those with historically underrepresented ownership to provide goods and services to the Institute. The page provides details about the program, including examples of commodity areas, diversity designations used by MIT, and links to MIT’s small business enterprise list. It also directs the community to VPF’s Supplier Search, where they can filter their search results of Preferred Suppliers by various diversity designations.

VPF small and diverse business program brochure cover

In his July letter to the MIT community on addressing systemic racism at MIT, President Reif committed the Institute to increase purchasing and contracting with minority and Black-led businesses.
 
“MIT has long placed importance on working with a diverse range of suppliers,” says Christina Lo, VPF Director of Strategic Sourcing and Contracts. “We are working to expand our data on these suppliers to provide the community with information to make deliberate and intentional purchasing decisions.”
 
At the Institute’s Day of Dialogue in August, Christina and Emma Homstad, VPF’s Small and Diverse Business Program Coordinator, shared plans for the program and gathered feedback from members of the community. “A metrics-driven evaluation was a key point many participants brought up in that conversation, along with the need for tools to assist purchasers in making decisions that align with MIT’s mission and values,” says Emma. “We are in the process of gathering and analyzing the data on Institute spending to identify a baseline on which to build actionable and measurable targets for the future. Then we can engage the community in dialogue about how best to set Institute guidelines and objectives for growing our participation in procurement activities with diverse businesses.”
 
“It’s a call to action,” says Christina. “Buying is an activity that the Institute does every day. Deciding to purchase from small and diverse businesses can help move the needle toward greater equity and create opportunities that will create change and address economic injustice.”