NCCIJ points to a lack of awareness as part of the problem.
The Catholic church operates the largest private school system, the largest social service system and the largest hospital network in the nation, according to NCCIJ. Taken as a group, churches -- Catholic and other denominations -- in terms of volume, are among the country's largest purchasers and are a major source of bank deposits.
NCCIJ has been laying the groundwork for the minority business forums since 1993, with similar gatherings previously held in Baltimore and Milwaukee.
An NCCIJ survey of 85 dioceses, related to the one on hiring, showed that in only four dioceses does more than one percent of central office purchasing go to minority businesses.
The NCCIJ employed Evelyn Freeman, co-owner of the Milwaukee affirmative action and equal opportunity consulting firm Walker and Walker to assist two dioceses, Cleveland and Milwaukee, implement affirmative action employment programs.