UChicago event examines ways to foster greater diversity in business

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Executives from minority- and women-owned businesses discuss opportunities with University leaders

Executives from 20 minority- and women-owned businesses recently spoke with leaders from the University of Chicago, UChicago Medicine and the Obama Foundation as part of the Office of Business Diversity’s annual Professional Services Symposium.

Representing the legal, communications, money management, human resources and information technology industries—executives gave PowerPoint presentations and fielded questions to determine if their firms’ capabilities matched the University’s needs.

The Nov. 17-18 virtual event also included a fireside chat with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who discussed the importance of fostering greater diversity in business.

“There is a lot of work to be done in the area of diversity, inclusion and equity,” said symposium organizer Nadia M. Quarles, assistant vice president of business diversity at the University. “It's time for companies, universities, foundations and nonprofits to all seek diverse business talent. It's time for diverse businesses to seek opportunities. That is what this symposium is all about: building relationships and expanding opportunities.”

Widely recognized as a national model for advancing business diversity, the symposium is part of the University’s efforts to increase the number of contracts awarded to minority and women-owned firms. Since the event began 12 years ago, University officials have met with more than 350 minority- and women-owned professional services firms and paid over $106 million to more than 90 firms. 

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