The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin is launching the Supplier Diversity Institute (SDI) to assist in the development, stabilization, and growth of diverse businesses throughout the state. SDI will work with national experts and Fortune 1,000 enterprises to provide innovative ideas, inclusive solutions and practical recommendations that advance three broad goals: to foster economic and inclusive growth that empowers disadvantaged communities; to improve the productivity and performance of diverse suppliers; and to strengthen supplier diversity as an industry.
Recent statistics show that nationwide 41% of Black-owned businesses and 32% of Latino-owned businesses have shut down in recent months. And these are the same businesses that were least likely to receive assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program that was started in March as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Dr. Leonard N. Moore, UT Austin vice president for diversity and community engagement, the rapid decline of Black- and Latino-owned businesses around the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic and demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death has made it more important than ever to assist diverse businesses.
“First and foremost, our thoughts are with the families that have been affected by both of these tragedies. In recognition of the problems associated with unemployment, poverty, and the lack of access to adequate healthcare in our communities, we remain focused on the inclusion of diverse businesses in the marketplace as tools to help alleviate these challenges,” said Moore. “Through SDI, the DDCE will continue its mission of connecting intellectual resources to communities across Texas, and offer education to those who may face the greatest challenges in accessing it.”
The institute will be under the direction of Mr. Christopher “Chris” Boles who will join DDCE as an executive-in-residence. Boles is the manager of supplier diversity at Rockwell, the world’s leading industrial automation company. Prior to joining Rockwell, he managed supplier diversity for the Cleveland Clinic. He earned his JD and MPA from Indiana University and his undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council and the North Central Minority Supplier Diversity Council, which oversees the states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Additionally, Boles serves on the Procurement advisory board for the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.