After surpassing 2020 target, Advocate Aurora ups supplier diversity goal

Advocate Aurora Health's Milwaukee headquarters in Walker's Point.

Advocate Aurora Health said it is increasing its supplier diversity targets in the coming years after exceeding its 2020 goal.

The Milwaukee- and Downers Grove, Illinois-based health system said it surpassed its target of spending with diverse vendors (including women-, minority-, LGBTQ- and veteran-owned businesses) as 6% of its total purchasing in 2020, for a total of $197 million. That’s up from $127 million (4.1% of its total spend) in 2018, and $157.5 million (5.4%) in 2019, according to a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion impact report from the health system.

Its goal for 2021 is 6.6% of its total spending, according to the report.

This week, the health system was among a dozen hospital and health systems nationally to pledge to collectively increase spending with minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) as well as local and employee-owned enterprises by at least $1 billion over five years.

The institutions are members of the national Healthcare Anchor Network, which promotes economic inclusion strategies among health systems. Collectively, that group spends more than $75 billion annually.

“As one of the largest health systems in the country, Advocate Aurora Health is focused on taking tangible action to spur economic vitality and create positive change,” Jim Skogsbergh, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Supporting minority and women-owned businesses through our local supply chain purchasing efforts is an important step to address health inequities.”

The systems also committed to work with at least two of their large existing vendors to “create hiring pipelines in the disinvested communities” they serve.

“We know job creation and giving people access to good paying jobs helps improve their health and well-being. We are constantly evaluating the best ways to meet the needs of the communities we serve and create an inclusive environment to help everyone live well,” Skogsbergh said.

An Advocate Aurora spokesperson said the health system is still solidifying its five-year commitment related to supplier diversity spending.

“We are being very intentional about how we spend our dollars with local businesses and the vendors we do business with,” said Cristy Garcia-Thomas, chief external affairs officer, in an emailed statement. “We know our commitment to spending with minority and women-owned businesses can have a positive impact on our footprint and close the inequities in the Milwaukee business landscape and beyond.”

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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