Supplier diversity comes to Northern Illinois University with new requirement

SOURCE: Elevate/Unsplash
The new policy requirement will enable diverse small businesses to bid for projects.

By U2B Staff 

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A new purchasing requirement to open up more bidding opportunities for small businesses will support Northen Illinois University’s (NIU) supplier diversity plans and meet its Business Enterprise Programme (BEP) targets.

The university’s Office of Procurement Services and Contract Management intends to purchase goods and services from a diverse range of suppliers to support the growth of businesses run by women, minorities, veterans and people with disabilities, as well as instill values of inclusivity within university culture. 

The new requirement established by the state legislature is one of the many initiatives that will support this cause, requiring the university to open competitive bidding opportunities for purchases that are US$20,000 and above.

This is a big change, given the previous minimum limit for competitive bidding was US$100,000. The reduced minimum will widen the opportunity for small businesses to work with the institution.

The change will also require bid requestors to get a minimum of two quotes before making a purchase. In addition, a BEP-certified company must also be considered in the process. 


The BEP is a programme that supports small businesses and companies that are at least 51 percent owned and controlled by women, minorities, or persons with disabilities with annual gross sales of less than US$75 million. 

The programme has also established NIU’s supplier diversity goal, which is to buy at least 20 percent of goods and services from BEP-certified businesses. The new policy requirement will help the university achieve this target.

Having diverse vendors will cement the university’s stand on inclusion. Source: Blake Wisz/Unsplash.

NIU has prioritised diversity of the university’s suppliers and vendors to reflect the university’s commitment to inclusivity. 

“We want to do business with vendors that reflect the rich diversity of our students, alumni and region to provide our students with role models and to enhance economic opportunity across all communities,” said NIU President Lisa Freeman in a report by Northern Star.  

She added that supporting businesses owned by minorities, women or persons with disabilities can promote innovation and increase the university’s access to new products by working under the BEP. 


Staff who have purchasing responsibilities within their departments will have to adjust to the new requirement as it involves a substantial change. 

Training sessions have been scheduled to provide an opportunity for staff members to review the new policy, familiarise themselves with the requirements, and discuss methods that will further help the university to meet its BEP targets. 

Currently, the university purchases goods and supplies from businesses in accordance with the Illinois Business Enterprise for Minorities, Females and Persons with Disabilities Act which has been in effect since 1994.