A Diverse Community Striving for Inclusive Excellence

October 7, 2019 | DesignPhiladelphia, 2019 Festival


Penn has taken great strides to enhance its inclusive community, and has promised to strengthen existing diverse and local partnerships while creating new ones.



Engaging locally is a fundamental component to President Gutmann's Penn Compact 2020, and one expression of that engagement is Penn's economic inclusion initiatives, which provide opportunities for local individuals and businesses to participate in the economic activity of Philadelphia's largest private employer.  For more than two decades, Penn has had a strategic and systematic approach to economic inclusion.  In that time, the University has worked to expand economic opportunities for minorities and women in the areas of purchasing, human resources, and construction by setting annual goals for engaging local, minority, and women-owned businesses and workforce participation.


Specifically, the University has taken a proactive approach by setting annual goals and developing programs and partnerships aimed at engaging the community.  To begin, Penn Human Resources has hiring practices and partnerships that encourage the recruitment, retention, and development of a committed and diverse workforce.  This focus is increasing employment opportunities by improving job skills and workforce capacity. 


The University’s Facilities and Real Estate Services division directs Penn's construction projects, with spend on larger capital projects averaging $250 million annually. Penn encourages economic inclusion on all construction projects, with extensive opportunities for local residents, minority-owned businesses, and women-owned business to participate in its major capital projects. On projects over $5 million, contractual goals are included and tracked, which aspire to obtain at least 25 percent of awards to minority and women-owned companies, and for at least 20 percent of the field workforce to consist of minorities and women.  Over the years, Penn has offered several capital project information sessions open to all to provide access, opportunities, and information for new minority- and women-owned businesses.  In addition, Penn’s participation in the ACE Mentor Program and other pre-apprenticeship programs have helped to create a skilled workforce in West Philadelphia neighborhoods.  Ongoing analysis focuses on new opportunities to diversify contracts and suppliers in other areas such as building trades, operations, and real estate development.    

The Division of Business Services supports Penn's commitment to economic inclusion by leveraging University purchasing power to encourage local business growth that aids companies owned by under-represented minorities and women.  A successful Annual Supplier Forum and Expo showcasing a few dozen vendors highlights the goal of small business support, encouraging the procurement of locally provided products and services.  Partnerships with the city and Chamber of Commerce on a diverse vendor database have also expanded engagement.


It is important that the University is intentional about strengthening existing diverse partnerships, and creating new ones.  The goal each year is to raise awareness of the diverse and local resources and encourage collaboration, emphasizing the need of all parties to stay present, persistent, and relevant to each other.  Penn’s investment in civic engagement and economic development is a bedrock principle of the institution.  To read more about Penn’s overall economic impact, visit the Executive Vice President’s website.  


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