Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Conference promotes minority, female-run businesses

Minorities and women who own small businesses received important facetime with Northwestern departments and companies that serve NU at the ninth annual Supplier Diversity Conference Friday in Norris University Center.

The morning event was organized by NU’s Purchasing Resource Services, said John Marshall, manager of supplier of diversity and procurement administrator.

Promoting minority and women business enterprises is good for business, Marshall said.

“The world is becoming more and more diverse and so is the business community,” he said. “If you don’t start to use minority and women business you’ll be left out of the business world.”

The purchasing resources program is designed to increase the diversity of businesses who supply NU. This goes along with the universities polices of non-discrimination.

NU also held the conference because the university needs to fill its requirement for government grants that stipulate the use of minority businesses.

“The university does a lot of research,” Marshall said. “There is a requirement to use minorities and women in grants.”

NU food service provider SodexhoUSA has a company mandate to help businesses owned by women and minorities grow, said John Chiodo, SodexhoUSA Regional Operations Support Manager.

“We employ a diverse workforce, we want to partner with a diverse workforce,” Chiodo said.

Because SodexhoUSA is a private business it doesn’t have a quota to fill, Chiodo said, but the company and NU encourage the use of female- and minority-led businesses.

Cesar Dovalina Jr., President of Cristina Foods, which supplies SodexhoUSA with wholesale foods, has been coming to the conference for the past few years to touch base with current customers and to look for new opportunities.

Smaller businesses like Dovalina’s are more hands-on because there is less bureaucracy, he said. Smaller companies offer direct contact with the owner, Dovalina added.

“There’s a level of comfort established,” he said.

Though smaller companies may not have the capital that larger companies possess, Sodexho still wants minority suppliers, Chiodo said. SodexhoUSA might give the smaller company 20 accounts instead of 100, he said.

“We’re not afraid to segment our business to have a few more deliveries to do the right thing,” Chiodo said.

Eugene Sunshine, NU’s senior vice president for business and finance, gave opening remarks along with Mayor Lorraine Morton and Marshall.

Although having the conference reduces the amount of field work needed to network, it still puts most of the work on the minority businesses, Dovalina said.

“It’s really up to me to follow-up after the fair to develop the business relationship,” Dovalina said.

Marshall said he recognizes that it might be difficult to form new relationships with NU.

“There’s a chance a vendor won’t connect all NU people here,” Marshall said. “They’re all very busy, the department can’t use everyone they meet.”

Reach Ashima Singal at [email protected].

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Conference promotes minority, female-run businesses