THE CASE FOR SUPPLIER DIVERSITY: AETNA’S JOSEPH BLACK
BY BARBARA FRANKEL | © 2008 DIVERSITYINC
If you get Joseph Black, Aetna’s chief procurement officer, talking about the business imperative for supplier
diversity, his passion shines through. “It’s important to
understand how strategically supplier diversity impacts
your own particular company, whether it’s one that
touches individual consumers or that does business-to-business,” Black says.
He’s helping Aetna with initiatives that target
urban markets, such as Chicago, Miami and New York.
“When those communities see you investing in their
well-being through utilizing their suppliers within
their markets, that’s a tremendous validation of
Aetna’s brand,” Black says.
A new plan will require that by 2011, all Aetna
suppliers must provide access to healthcare benefits
to their employees. This will most dramatically impact small vendors, many of which are minority- and
women-owned. “We see this as our charge of helping to
shape the quality of healthcare in America,” Black says,
emphasizing that what’s important is to provide the
benefits, regardless of whether
they are from Aetna.
Black received a bachelor’s
degree in interior design from
Cornell University and started
designing buildings for Aetna.
He realized he had more ability
to effect change, so he pursued
an MBA from the University
Aetna, one of
of Connecticut and discovered
the world of procurement.
Black left Aetna in 2001
to work in a construction-management firm and then
a woman-owned real-estate consultancy. In 2005, he
came back to Aetna as chief procurement officer.
A challenge was getting Aetna’s top management
to understand the long-term importance of supplier
diversity. “A big part of our focus was translating the
language of supplier diversity out of procurement language and into the language of the business,” he says.
DIVERSIFYING EDUCATION’S TOP RANKS: DR. MICHAEL OSNATO
BY DARYL C. HANNAH | © 2008 DIVERSITYINC
Growing up, Dr. Michael
Osnato didn’t have a set
career path. While the Bronx,
N. Y., native had many family
members in the law profession,
he was never passionate about
it. “I was going to go to law
DR. MICHAEL OSNATO
school at St. John’s [University
Seton Hall University
in New York], but I really
wasn’t ecstatic about that,” he
says. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I decided I
would teach until I decided what I wanted to do.”
Unbeknownst to him, that short time would turn
into more than 35 years in education.
“After I started teaching, I was quickly moved up,”
he says. But as he climbed the ranks of the public-education system, Osnato noticed a lack of diversity
among principals and superintendents.
“There was old-style ethnic politics going on,” he
says. “I knew that we needed to focus on getting the
best people in these leadership positions, regardless
Today, as the director of Seton Hall University’s Institute for Educational Leadership, Osnato is doing just
that. “We are a not-for-profit dedicated to improving
diversity and leadership in public schools, both regionally and nationally,” he says. “And in addition to the
academic programs of the university, we help attract
and retain people from traditionally underrepresented
groups who aspire to leadership positions.”
The institute has been successful in recruiting and
retaining more women to principal and superintendent
positions, but Osnato admits education still has
a long way to go in getting over racial barriers. He
says, “Getting Blacks and Latinos placed in majority
Caucasian neighborhoods is our next frontier.”
But he is as hopeful and as passionate as ever. “I
think eventually we will see people rising to the top
based on their skill sets,” he says. “When I first started, I
got hooked, and I’m still hooked.”