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INDEPENDENCE BLUE CROSS ANNOUNCES RESULTS OF BOARD-APPROVED MINORITY PURCHASING PROGRAM

 PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Two years ago, Independence Blue Cross, the region's largest health insurer, established a board- level committee on Minority Contracting and Employment.
 Chaired by Board of Directors' Vice Chairman Robert Sorrell, the committee immediately got to work on the challenging task of enhancing IBC's business relationships with minority and female-owned firms.
 Two years later, in September of 1993, the committee reported dramatic gains to the board of directors. More than 8 percent of IBC's outside business contracting is now done with firms that are exclusively owned by minority and female business people. This total represents more than $3 million in economic activity as compared to about $700,000 -- 3 percent of total business -- two years ago.
 "The program is a success thanks to strong leadership of our Board and the specific efforts of Bob Sorrell and the other committee members," according to G. Fred DiBona Jr., IBC's president and chief executive officer. Other members of the committee are A. Bruce Crawley, Margery S. Wolf, Councilman James Kenney and Dennis J. Faucher, attorney.
 "This is not an affirmative action program, it's simply good business," said Sorrell. "In fact, we initiated the program by setting aside the company's old affirmative-action-based purchasing guidelines and replacing them with more realistic, market-based approaches."
 "The program covers every fact of IBC's activity," said Sorrell. "Copiers, calculators, voice data equipment, printing, furniture and service contracts are typical areas in which solid relationships have been established. In addition, IBC's management has been extremely cooperative. For example, every year, prior to the finalizations of departmental budgets, IBC contracting professionals from every division hold an Open House to meet, interview and familiarize themselves with present ao?tential minority and female contractees. This process gets the ball rolling on a first-name basis. It opens the doors and establishes the dialogue which leads to specific business arrangements.
 "If similar initiatives were undertaken by other major local businesses," Sorrell added, "we could really see significant positive impact in terms of economic opportunity and business growth throughout the Greater Philadelphia area."
 DiBona noted that the committee's goal for 1994 is to move from 8 percent to double digits in the amount of business directed toward minority and female firms. "We've discovered two things," said DiBona, "one is that there are significantly more minority and female companies providing services we can use than we ever expected; secondly, and perhaps most important, we've learned that there is no discernible difference in the quality of the goods or services we purchase from minority and female suppliers as compared to those we have always obtained from our more traditional source of contracts. We will be exploring additional opportunities through our major subsidiaries," he said. "In addition, IBC's effort has special impact because all of our business is done right here in the Delaware Valley."
 "The program indicates that IBC really cares," Sorrell added. "If similar initiatives were undertaken by other major area businesses, we could really see significant positive impact in terms of economic opportunity and business growth in targeted areas."
 Business owners interested in opportunities with IBC should contact Richard Scharle, director of purchasing, Independence Blue Cross, 1901 Market St., Philadelphia, at 215-241-2464.
 /delval/
 -0- 10/22/93
 /CONTACT: Sheldon Jones of Crawley, Haskins & Rodgers, 215-922-7184, for Independence Blue Cross/


CO: Independence Blue Cross ST: Pennsylvania IN: HEA INS SU:

MJ-MP -- PH022 -- 5759 10/22/93 13:20 EDT
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Date:Oct 22, 1993
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