Sentara Healthcare is taking “shop local” to a whole new level. They have pledged their executive leadership and corporate resources toward a goal to increase diversity among the company’s suppliers.
“We are committed to growing partnerships with local and regional suppliers and companies owned by women, people of color, and veterans,” said Terrie Edwards, Sentara Corporate Vice President who oversees supply chain. “Sentara has a mission to improve health every day. One way to do that is using supply chain dollars to support local vendors and good-paying jobs with benefits.”
Sentara has appointed a Supplier Diversity Executive Council, Chaired by Jennifer McPherren, Vice President of Supply Chain. The executive council includes the health system’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion, a Vice President of Government Relations, and representatives from the Real Estate and Construction Divisions to help grow contacts with diverse local and regional companies.
“We learned from the pandemic that there are local and regional vendors who can compete on quality, price, and reliability,” said McPherren. “We want to grow those relationships.”
Sentara is currently hiring a Manager of Supply Chain Diversity, a new position reporting to the system’s Director of Strategic Sourcing, who is tasked with broadening the overall supplier base to ensure adequate supplies are on hand or delivered when disruptions occur such as covid-19 and the Suez Canal blockage.
“There are opportunities to use our buying power to invest in our local communities,” said McPerren. “We will make it easier for smaller vendors to navigate our process so we can reduce dependence on a handful of mega suppliers.”
Toward this goal, Sentara will provide quarterly education sessions for smaller suppliers to help them learn how to respond to requests for proposals and thrive as long-term partners.