Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals DEI Supplier Accelerator Program Aims to Level the Playing Field

Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals DEI Supplier Accelerator Program Aims to Level the Playing Field. A construction worker in reflective vest holding a hard hat safety helmet under her arm looks at blueprints she is holding unfurled in her hands.

Fatima Ware faced many challenges when she began her career in the male-dominated sheet metal industry. “There was one Black woman, and it was me,” she recently told a Cleveland television station.

Determined to create change, Ware kept moving forward. Today, she’s president, CEO and owner of WTD Mechanical, a company that specializes in installing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems for commercial and residential clients. WTD is one of five Cleveland area companies chosen to take part in Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals’ newly launched Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Supplier Accelerator program.

The business development mentorship program will give underrepresented entrepreneurs like Ware a better chance at landing construction jobs as health systems continue to renovate and build. The program also helps support business leaders in the LGBTQ+ community and companies headed by Black, Hispanic and other people of color, women and veterans.

To help participants grow their companies and be competitive in the market, the six-month training program offers:

  • Business development coaching and learning the sourcing process of large corporations.
  • Direct access to leaders from the two health systems and other subject matter experts.
  • Networking opportunities with decision-makers at both systems, key suppliers and community organizations.
  • Comprehensive business review to provide feedback for growing and developing businesses.
  • A $10,000 cash prize upon program completion.

As the health care organizations support participants in achieving their goals, leaders believe the effort will create a positive ripple effect in the community, notes Steve Downey, chief supply chain and patient support services officer at Cleveland Clinic.

Learn More

The AHA and its member hospitals and health systems have launched a variety of initiatives to promote DEI throughout all areas of operations. Visit the AHA Institute for Diversity and Health Equity webpage for case studies, podcasts, webinars and other resources to help advance your DEI programs.

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