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Saturday, May 21, 2022

City Launches Disparity Study, New WMBE Advisory Committee To Ensure Equity In Contracting And Purchasing

Earlier this week, the City of Seattle announced that it will launch a new disparity study to make recommendations to remove inequities that exist in the City’s soliciting and procuring of contracts and awarding of public funds. 

“The City has a responsibility to make sure that Black, Indigenous, and people of color and women-owned firms have equitable opportunities to compete for City contracts,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “Through the launch of this study to create recommendations for changes, and the creation of a new WMBE Advisory Committee, we are taking critical and necessary steps to center equity in public contracts—from how we solicit them to how we engage businesses.” 

The study and recommendations will analyze the city’s past and current contracting practices, examine marketplace conditions, including how minority- and women-owned businesses fared when compared to other businesses competing for the same projects, and collect input from city departments. The study and community engagement will lead to recommendations and new actions the city can take. 

Colette Holt and Associates, a national legal and consulting firm that specializes in issues related to Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise programs, will lead the study and was selected through a competitive bidding process led by the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS). 

In addition to ongoing analysis and review, Colette Holt and Associates will be hosting public meetings to discuss the disparity study’s scope and timeline, which will include opportunities for input. Members of the public can learn more at the city’s WMBE site www.seattle.gov/purchasing-and-contracting/social-equity/wmbe.

Additionally, to further the City of Seattle’s commitment to economic inclusion and contracting equity, Mayor Durkan and FAS recently formally launched the Mayoral Women- and Minority-Owned Business (WMBE) Advisory Committee. The Committee, established through Executive Order 2019-06, will provide guidance and feedback on City of Seattle contracting equity initiatives. 

Durkan has appointed 12 members to the advisory committee, which represents four stakeholder sectors: vendors, consultants, construction contractors and community organizations. Members represent a range of experiences, perspectives and backgrounds, and are appointed for a two-year term. 

The WMBE Advisory Committee will focus its work by establishing an annual work plan. Issues on the table include supporting the Citywide disparity study and evaluating existing City policies and procedures, City outreach and engagement practices, technical assistance and training. 

“In 2020, the City spent 23% of purchasing dollars and 23% of consulting dollars with WMBE firms. We want to work with the WMBE Advisory Committee and through this disparity study to drill down into this data, including looking at breakdowns by race/ethnicity, to ultimately strengthen our existing partnerships and build new contracting opportunities for WMBE firms,” said Calvin W. Goings, FAS Department Director.   

The 2021-22 WMBE Advisory Committee members are:

• Ato Apiafi, Ato Apiafi Architects 

• Anthony Burnett, MB Diversity 

• Terry Calloway, Trinity Development Corporation 

• Tracey Freeman, T&T Traffic Control 

• Shelley Gaddie, ProjectCorps 

• Ollie Garrett, Tabor 100 

• Regina Glenn, Pacific Communications Consultants Inc

• Eugene Hardin, Quality Woodworking 

• Fernando Martinez, NW Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council 

• Michelle Merriweather, Urban League 

• Roger Newton, Newton Building & Development, LLC 

• Irene Reyes, Excel Supply Company 

“I’m honored to join other leaders in the WMBE community to support the City of Seattle’s drive towards equity in City contracting,” said Ollie Garrett, President of Tabor 100 and WMBE Advisory Committee member. “I know the conversations ahead will be both challenging and productive as we look at efforts to boost outreach, inclusion and engagement.” 

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