Thursday, June 09, 2005

PC Purchasing at Marquette (Politically Correct, not Personal Computer)

Marquette’s Purchasing Department has a reputation for imposing bureaucratic hassles on University departments and programs that want to buy things.

Now, they are pushing political correctness too.

If one goes to the list of “approved” and “preferred” vendors on the Purchasing web site, and dig down into specific classes of goods and services, one will find that “woman owned” and “minority owned” businesses are listed first, and emphasized with a colored background.

Marquette explains as follows:
Diversity, As a Catholic, Jesuit and urban university, Marquette has launched a Vendor Diversity Initiative. This initiative is to increase the amount of minority, woman owned, and small business participation in the university supply chain. To assist you in this effort the Purchasing Department has identified those supply and service categories with the letter “D” in the left column below which indicates the existence of a diversity provider in that particular category. You will find these vendors listed on the top of the linked page.
As is usually the case, the “Catholic” and “Jesuit” nature of the University is thought to require affirmative action preferences, but not to stand in the way of a University Ministry that pushes a “gay rights” agenda, nor to having the Admissions office target students in a gay pride event for recruitment.

Do they think they are fooling anybody with this “Catholic” and “Jesuit” nonsense?

The notion of “approved” or “preferred” vendors is, in the first place, silly since departments and programs are typically better positioned than Purchasing to know what vendors to use. In the cases where somebody at Purchasing actually knows something about the relative merits of various vendors, they can of course give advice to anybody on campus who asks.

But the system of “approved” and “preferred” vendors does keep Purchasing bureaucrats busy, and it increases their power, since vendors wanting this status have to pander to and suck up to those same bureaucrats.

And now, it seems, the system opens the door to a politically correct initiative that the University can brag about when the issue of “diversity” comes up.

This whole “woman owned” and “minority owned” thing is obviously open to a lot of scams. We used to know a fellow in the computer business who saw to it that 51% of the business was owned by his wife. Thus it qualified as a “woman owned” business, although in fact it was his business and his wife was in an entirely different line of work.

One wonders how many “minority owned” business have a black guy out front, but some white partners reaping the lion’s share of the profits.

Worse, it’s rather demeaning to women and minorities to imply that they can’t compete with white males on an equal basis.

Finally, like affirmative action programs in general, such policies tend to create minorities and women who can’t compete on an equal basis. Every hour’s time, and every minute’s thought put into schemes for parlaying female or minority status into some profit is time and thought that can’t be put into figuring out how to provide a better product, or the same product cheaper, and the same product and price with better service attached.

But such policies certainly serve the interests of the bureaucrats.

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