Supplier diversity is what’s ‘good for business’ at Houston First

Houston • Sept. 1, 2016

Unwavering  commitment, strategic  planning and a willingness to innovate are the chief attributes in Houston First Corporation’s successful supplier diversity program.

Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First, says the corporate ethos pays off on the bottom line, too.

“Supplier diversity is not only the right thing to do, it’s also good for business,” Ullrich said.

Employee commitment coupled with a proactive game plan are two tenets for successfully diversifying Houston First’s purchasing efforts.

Also important is consistently developing new programs that uncover new vendors, according to purchasing agent Mitch Miszkowski.

“It’s vital to our business operations that we have a diverse roster of vendors that we can call on at any given time,” Miszkowski said. “We are consistently beating the bushes to find new suppliers so we are not beholden to any single vendor.”

Houston First attracted more than 150 vendors to the 2016 Strategic Economic Opportunities Forum and gained a number of new registered vendors. The successful forum was driven by a new software system called B2GNOW, which is designed to ensure greater efficiency and transparency regarding all aspects of diversity compliance, including payment to subcontractors and the achievement of contractual diversity goals.   

“This is a web-based software that allows us to reach a wide range of minority vendors for future events, forums, pre-bids, and outreach campaigns,” Miszkowski said.

Since the inception of its supplier diversity program in 2012 to establish greater economic commitment to minority- and women-owned businesses, Houston First has exceeded its goals each year and has awarded contracts paying nearly $224 million to minority, women and small business enterprises.

Houston First current diversity participation for 2016 is 33 percent.

Last year Houston First was named the City of Houston's Community Partner of the Year for its diversity program.