Creating Opportunities for Minority & Women-owned Business | 2018 Professional Services Symposium


ROBERT J. ZIMMER: I think
anybody who comes and actually sees this Professional
Service Symposium sees the types of interactions that
our vice presidents are having with these firms,
if anybody actually sees that, they would be very
excited to do it themselves. [MUSIC PLAYING] JOHN W. ROGERS,
JR.: My recollection is that we started talking
about this when we were at lunch and you were concerned
about how do we get more wealth into
our community which would mean you’d have
more successful minority entrepreneurs, more successful
minority leaders in business, and then ultimately some
of those success stories would ultimately
end up qualifying to be on the board of the
University of Chicago. ROBERT J. ZIMMER:
The insight of saying that we needed to think
about this in terms of a different way of
approaching minority and women owned businesses was
very important because as you well know and as
you pointed out, there are so many institutions
that think about minority owned businesses,
particularly in terms of very limited set
of opportunities in terms of facilities,
janitorial services. And that’s a very limited set
of opportunities for people. And for the
institution, it’s not taking advantage of all the
talent that there is out there. JOHN W. ROGERS, JR.:
But one of the things you understood right away
was that the economy has also evolved over the
last generation. It used to be that
our economy was much more of a
manufacturing based economy and now it’s moved into more
of a professional services technology based economy. And if you are
going to be working with minority owned
businesses, you want to have minority
businesses participating in the parts of the
economy that were growing and where wealth is
being created today. ROBERT J. ZIMMER:
Well, part of my job is to make sure and give
people so much framework for actually helping
them do their job better. And I believed that this
program was actually going to help every vice
president do their job better because they would
have access to talent. And I think that’s
exactly what’s happened. JOHN W. ROGERS, JR.: Well,
the University of Chicago really is a role model
for other universities throughout the United States. I think we’re still the
only university that’s committed to work with
minority businesses outside of traditional construction,
catering, commodity based part of the economy. And the professional team
here has worked so hard to execute it, not
just talk a good game and make empty promises,
people have actually fulfilled the commitment
to really work with a wide range of businesses. Not only is Hyde
Park a community that embraces
diversity inclusion and leaves having
bringing different ideas and perspectives. The university also brings
that special perspective of really respecting
different points of view and realizing when you
bring people together who are going to
have rigorous inquiry and bring different
ideas to the table. ROBERT J. ZIMMER:
This whole sense of not just being an
open place but that you need that openness to actually
be great along the lines that we aspire to. So just as the issue
about bringing talent is important this issue about
being open and welcoming to diverse points of
view, diverse backgrounds, diverse experiences all
of that makes us better and fits with what it
is we’re trying to be. [MUSIC PLAYING] NADIA M. QUARLES, ESQ.:
Melody, 10 years ago when I first decided that I was
going to bring minority professional service
firms to the university to meet with our
senior decision makers, money management was not an area
that I was even thinking about. And when I met you,
one of the first things you said to me was endowments
are not hiring minority money management firms. And I don’t know if you
recall me saying to you that in order for me to make
an impact in that area, that I was certainly
willing to try, but in order for me to make an
impact in that area I needed you to teach me the
industry because I at that time had no knowledge of
investment industry at all. MELLODY HOBSON: I
totally remember that. First of all, I remember
that we met at a speech that I was giving in
the suburbs of Chicago. And I remember you came
up and you spoke to me. And I started to talk to you
immediately about the areas that I thought needed to
be addressed when it came to minority firms specifically
as it related to investment management. And that wasn’t necessarily
about Ariel at all. It was just in general that this
was a problem that I thought no one was talking about. And what I loved
about that encounter is that your eyes perked up
and you immediately said, I need to learn about
this and what should I do? And you subsequently
followed up with me and you came to my office. And I sat down with you
and explained to you how everything worked. And you had follow up
meetings after that where you would go deeper and
deeper to try to understand. So you said, I want to be
informed when I bring this up and when I advocate
for minority firms. And an informed
person advocating is the very best thing. And I think that’s why you’ve
had such great results. NADIA M. QUARLES, ESQ.:
And my conversations, those early
conversations with you were really what enabled
me to ultimately sit down and have detailed discussions
with our endowment team. At the end of the day,
me bringing in initially about 15 firms. And the university, two
years after that, we hired our first two
African-American money management firms and now
we have about 12 minority and women-owned
investment firms. MELLODY HOBSON: Here’s
what I think is great. One, you wanted knowledge. And you realized that
knowledge would be power. And that gave you, I think,
a great deal of confidence when you went in to have the
conversation with the endowment team. Two, because you had
done your homework, I’m sure they were much more
open to the conversation. You hadn’t done a light rinse. You’d gone deep on
the subject matter. And I’m sure that
made for a very, very fulfilling discussion
back and forth and perhaps some aha moments
on their side as well. And I think you
have to give them a lot of credit for being
open to the discussion and ultimately moving on
the issue in terms of firms actually being hired over the
course of the last few years, which I think is not only
noteworthy it’s something to be applauded. I am sure those firms were
hired on their merits. And the great thing about
the investment business is the results are the results. As I like to say
math has no opinion. NADIA M. QUARLES,
ESQ.: So why do you think minority firms have
such a challenge with getting opportunities with endowments
and foundations as well? MELLODY HOBSON: I think
there are a number of reasons that we have a hard time with
endowments and foundations around the country
and in various parts of the nonprofit world. I think some of
it is just people are used to working
with the people that they’ve known
for a very long time and it’s very hard to break in. I think that’s true in life. But I think this
area is particularly hard wired around some
long term relationships. I think the other thing
is that unfortunately we don’t necessarily
get the opportunity to get in front of
everyone in the way that we would hope to so
that we could make our case face to face and eyeball
to eyeball and hopefully be convincing and compelling. And I think the other
thing is there’s clearly institutional bias that is
in certain organizations. I’m not calling people racist. I’m not trying to create
any form of defensiveness. I’m just saying
that when you look at the history of something
over very long periods of time and you see that no one
has ever broken through, you just have to ask
your self some questions about the process and
what bias is creeping in that’s keeping people out. So I think there are a host of
reasons why that has happened. I’m hopeful also that University
of Chicago’s leadership in this regard will
break down some barriers for firms like Ariel and other
firms all over the country. I mean this is super
important what has happened at University of Chicago. PAT QUINN: : We want to
keep this movement going. It’s so important for the
university and for our state. But it also serves as a model
for other major institutions in our state of Illinois. PRAKHAR BANSAL: I’m marveled
actually by the system that we have in the US, that
it gave me the opportunity to come here from
India 16 years ago and gave me an education
and an opportunity to have a better life. And I think that’s the
sort of similar framework you could say that we have
in this diversity symposium to include people from all
backgrounds, all ethnicities. [MUSIC PLAYING] NADIA M. QUARLES, ESQ.:
I was really excited when we decided to
partner with you because Johnson
Publishing and your father were such an icon here in
Chicago and around the world as well. And it just seemed right
that the university would partner with you. LINDA JOHNSON RICE: Yeah,
actually it turned out to be a great partnership. And I thank you for
leading that charge and for the
University of Chicago for being so I think forthright
and forthcoming and innovative and almost really cutting
edge in coming to us, coming to Ebony to really have
a partnership to really talk about diversity
and the platforms that the University of Chicago
could offer as far as diversity is concerned. And then to come
to Ebony which is, I think, a great platform
it turned out to be, I think, a really great
partnership for both. NADIA M. QUARLES,
ESQ.: But it really was the first time the
University of Chicago had ever ran an ad campaign
in a national magazine and also a magazine
that really was geared towards the
African-American community. LINDA JOHNSON RICE: Right. NADIA M. QUARLES,
ESQ.: And so it was huge for the university
to take that step and say, we want
to start targeting the African-American
community on a national scale and looking at how we
can utilize this platform to diversify our student
body at the university. LINDA JOHNSON RICE:
To be able to partner with Ebony just gave– I think for the university,
it was a smart move for them to directly target the
African-American community in a space with a
vehicle like Ebony that is very well-respected,
very authentic, very well-regarded. And so therefore
it gave credibility for the University
of Chicago, and it showed their real
sincerity towards wanting to reach this community. NADIA M. QUARLES,
ESQ.: And then we went and we took the magazine
live essentially. LINDA JOHNSON RICE: Yeah. NADIA M. QUARLES, ESQ.:
And this is really where I would say
the second part of the innovation of this
relationship took place. And we did a
education roundtable. LINDA JOHNSON RICE: Yeah. NADIA M. QUARLES,
ESQ.: Just for me, sitting back and watching
how the two groups, the university’s creative team
worked with your creative team to pull off this event. And I think we did that
in probably a month. LINDA JOHNSON RICE: Yeah. I know that was a
very short frame. And I remember Tamron
Hall was the host as you said from MSNBC. And MSNBC did carry the
live feed of it, I believe. NADIA M. QUARLES, ESQ.: Yes. LINDA JOHNSON RICE:
So that was wonderful. But, yeah. You know we came
together as partners. NADIA M. QUARLES, ESQ.: Yeah. LINDA JOHNSON RICE:
We came together in building a relationship and
building a relationship that was going to lead to a
purposeful outcome for both. NADIA M. QUARLES, ESQ.: Yeah. LINDA JOHNSON RICE:
For both entities. [MUSIC PLAYING] KIM TAYLOR: What’s
most helpful to us is when somebody talks about
their individual expertise and how they
approach their work. Because the most important
part about this symposium is the opportunity to
get a feel and a comfort level for the people that
you may be calling to hire. LAUREL PYKE MALSON:
The opportunity for me and for the women and
minority partners working with me for this
university to represent it has been significant
and one that we are really unlikely to have gotten but
for the exposure brought by this program. That is because, even in
large successful diversity aware law firms, women and
lawyers of color including partners are all too often
invisible, invisible to firm clients and potential
clients, and to our white male colleagues who
are the most frequent referral sources of business. JULIE SCOTT: Starting with
the symposium as I mentioned, we had the opportunity
to have a one on one session with actual
constituents who might actually need our services in finance,
accounting, HR, and IT. And with that they helped
open all the doors from there. They made it easy for us. They made the introductions. They were there to encourage
us, to coach us, make us laugh. Then it moved into
a true collaboration not just as another
vendor but as a partner. And I don’t use that lightly. It was a true game
changer for us. JAMES S. WILLIAMS,
JR.: We, at one time, didn’t have any diverse
law firms working with our legal team;
now we have two. We’ve brought on two
information technology firms; one that has
helped us to redesign our internet, another firm that
has done leadership development with our senior leadership. Another firm is
right now working with our entire senior
leadership in our diversity inclusion initiative
throughout the organization. So these started as
small relationships where people just met to
full blown presentations to full blown contracts now that
are actually working with us over a long period of time. ARNE DUNCAN: What this
university is doing is unprecedented. This idea of an
elite institution and amazing research
and academic institution bringing in fantastic
professionals to help them grow and to help them prosper. Unfortunately, you can probably
count on one hand, if that, the number of universities
around the nation who have this kind of long term
commitment and not just talk but action. LESTER H. McKEEVER, JR.: Working
with the University of Chicago, the Medical Center, and Argonne
Lab has been great for us. And this relationship suggests
a wonderful intellectual environment. We are privileged to be
partners with the university, and it is inspiring to work
with the brilliant people at every level of
this organization. The Professional
Service Symposium is designed to inspire and help
minority professional firms pursue their destiny. ALEJANDRA Y. CASTILLO, ESQ.:
The University of Chicago is unique because, as you
can see in today’s symposium, there is such a
wealth of companies that are bringing forth
their best products, their best thinking. They’re bringing efficiencies. They’re bringing innovation. So from that perspective
the University of Chicago is ahead of its time because
it’s really making sure that minority owned firms are
truly integral to the fabric of the university. And I think again, as
I said before, this is a testament of its success. CHRISTOPHER J.
WILLIAMS: The fact that the University
of Chicago provides a forum where firms can come
in, present their skills, and hear what the needs are
of the university, that’s very helpful to us in terms
of growing our business. ROSIE RIOS: So it does
make a difference when you invest in your people, right? There’s three pillars
of investment. There’s financial
capital, physical capital, and human capital. I constantly say
that human capital continues to be the best
investment that we can make. [MUSIC PLAYING] NADIA M. QUARLES, ESQ.:
So the symposium, I think, has really been successful
because of the commitment of the vice presidents
but also taking the time to really get
that buy in early on. DEREK R.B. DOUGLAS: One
of the powerful things about the symposium
over the nine years has been to see the way
that the vice presidents who lead the areas and do the
procurement have embraced it. And not only embraced
but kind of look forward to it every year. And both connecting with the
businesses and the companies and meeting new ones, but
also kind of connecting with each other and
pushing each other to see how they can do more. And one of the things I’m
excited about for the future is thinking about how we can
move the envelope even further and setting ambitious goals
perhaps even by department, which I think will help with the
ambition of the vice presidents and their teams to really
think about how can we strive for more opportunity,
more firms that they work with. I think will also help
with accountability because when you have goals and
you’re looking and measuring yourself each and every year
to see how you’re performing against the goals, it gives
you a measure of am I living up to that, am I hitting it or not. NADIA M. QUARLES,
ESQ.: We clearly have the commitment
there but now the next step is to
have that commitment and that accountability
which will really increase the level of
business that we’re doing with the minority
and women-owned businesses. So I think it’s really
important that we also look to engage these businesses
for a long term basis and not just having these
one-off opportunities. So I think the
accountability piece and setting the
goals will really help us so that we can also see
how many years have we actually done business with
some of these firms and what the true
economic impact is for those firms as well
as locally here in Chicago and nationally as well. DEREK R.B. DOUGLAS: One of the
things that I’m proudest of, and I know you are
too, has been how this program has become a
model, people are looking to it. And I sometimes get asked,
what are the key ingredients to make this successful? A lot of places have
Business Diversity programs, but they’re not getting the
results that we’re getting. And I always start
with you have to have the leadership at the top. And this initiative
wouldn’t be what it is without John Rogers on our
board, Bob Zimmer our president really setting the tone
in terms of the importance to the university, the
value, putting their own time and energy into it,
being ambassadors for it. Every time John speaks,
he talks about it. And I think that
leadership is key but you also need the people to
execute, someone like yourself. And it’s important that
your role is a senior role within the university. You’re not in the bowels
of the institution. You’re at a senior
level which enables you to have direct access and
engage with the vice president and the decision makers who
are having these contracts, opportunities. And I tell people that if you
really want to be successful, you have to have the person
driving the day to day that can be in the room. It’s in the room with the
people making the decisions because it’s relationship
based and it’s influence based. And I think that’s a
critical part of it. So those are kudos
to you as well. You’ve built this
over 10 years but I think some of those key
elements are what contributed to making it so successful. NADIA M. QUARLES, ESQ.: Yeah. And I think that’s
really important in professional services because
these opportunities they don’t go through procurement, right? So when a vice
president is looking to hire a financial firm
they’re picking up the phone and they’re calling someone they
know, someone that they’ve had long term relationships with. DEREK R.B. DOUGLAS:
One of the things I’m really excited about
on the 10 year anniversary is your decision
to create an award to give to the vice president
or the department that in your estimation for that
year has really performed at an extremely high
level in creating opportunities and cultivating
opportunities for minority firms in their space. NADIA M. QUARLES, ESQ.: Yeah. It will be nice to have
a legacy, an award named after him because he’s done
so much work in this area. [MUSIC PLAYING]

One Reply to “Creating Opportunities for Minority & Women-owned Business | 2018 Professional Services Symposium”

  1. Outstanding model of integrating diverse firms into a broad range of opportunities across the University & Medical Center!

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