Procurement Professionals Discuss Sustainable Procurement Practices in Latest Installment of DEI Series

In the third installment of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) series, organized in partnership with CAPPO (California Association of Public Procurement Officials), San Mateo County Community Colleges District’s (SMCCCD) Jessica Ho, Utility and Sustainability Coordinator, and Ananya Subramanian, Sustainable Procurement and Circularity Fellow, discussed their experiences with sustainable procurement and the importance of vendor diversification. 

Speakers discussed the sustainability efforts in place at SMCCCD, emphasizing the importance of student engagement in order to promote environmental awareness and stewardship. Despite the fact that the district is the first to have a dedicated sustainability team, implementing sustainable procurement doesn’t necessarily require the involvement of a full team. The speakers also discussed the integration of DEI into sustainability projects as a means of combating environmental injustice and providing equitable opportunities for underserved communities to receive district projects.

Furthermore, they shared how utilizing financial forces to select products and services that have a reduced impact on the health of humans and their environment is a legally protected practice. Vendor diversification can increase the agility and cost-effectiveness of the supply chain, enabling the district to remain dynamic in volatile markets and develop innovative, community-first solutions. This approach can promote equity and social justice by encouraging participation of local, women-owned, small, minority, marginalized, and/or veteran businesses. 

SMCCCD leverages PlanetBids as a DEI tracking tool by adding more demographic and sustainability certification questions on their questionnaire to better profile potential vendors. By collecting data on the gender, ethnicity, and certification status of their vendors, the district can establish a baseline for their DEI efforts and identify areas where they need to improve. With this information, their team can develop concrete steps to reach their district goals of increasing sustainable procurement by 20% by 2025 and by 25% by 2030.

We appreciate Jessica and Ananya’s dedication to sustainable procurement and in sharing their time discussing this important topic. The slides to this presentation can be viewed here. If you are interested in leveraging the FoundationCCC’s agreement with PlanetBids to support DEI tracking, please reach out to for more information.

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