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Mayor Durkan Signs Executive Order to Advance Contracting Equity, Expand City of Seattle’s Outreach to Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses

Seattle (September 24) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today signed a new Executive Order to affirm and advance the City of Seattle’s commitment to economic inclusion and contracting equity, and expand the City’s outreach to women- and minority-owned businesses (WMBE).

“As a large buyer in our local economy, we have a responsibility to use our purchasing power to help small businesses that have been historically underserved and underused,” said Mayor Durkan. “With this Executive Order, we’re doing more to help women- and minority-owned businesses thrive in Seattle. And we’re setting ambitious goals and lasting processes to make sure that we’re fulfilling our commitment to this community.”

“Today, we are reaffirming our commitment to WMBE businesses and ensuring all firms have the same access and opportunities,” said Council President Bruce Harrell. “We looked at the reported contracting data and know we can do better. The City is a learning organization and it is incumbent on all of us to help City departments retrain, expand and conduct effective outreach to increase diversity in contracting and reducing barriers for small businesses. While most City departments are enthusiastic about increasing inclusion, we want to make sure they have the resources and tools to make this happen. I envision Seattle to be a national model for best practices for contracting equity programs.”

The Executive Order directs the City to:

  • Immediately commission a disparity study to identify current barriers to contracting equity and the efficacy of current efforts. The study will focus on, but is not limited to, barriers in WMBE participation in City procurements, certification, consistency and efficacy of current department practices, and technical assistance and challenges;
  • Develop a strategic and operational plan to bolster language-appropriate outreach to better serve immigrant and refugee communities, improve utilization of community liaisons, interpreters and translators in contracting efforts;
  • Establish a Mayoral WMBE Advisory Committee to provide guidance and feedback on the City’s contracting equity initiatives. The Advisory Committee will be composed of local women- and minority-owned businesses and other underutilized firms, including but not limited to, LGBTQ+, immigrants and refugees, emerging, small, and disadvantaged businesses; and
  • Expand outreach to overcome historic barriers caused by inequitable access to information and data. The City will target outreach to WMBE firms who have historically faced these barriers to close this gap.

“Women- and minority- owned businesses provide important, key services to the City, from communications to construction, and everything in between,” said Calvin W. Goings, Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. “As the City’s WMBE contracting lead, we’re prepared to make sure there’s equitable opportunity through every dollar the City spends.”

“As a WMBE firm that provides civil engineering expertise in Seattle, contracting with the City has been a critical part of our growth and success,” said Xiaoping Zhang, Founder and Principal Engineer, Concord Engineering. “Today’s efforts make important and lasting improvements to the City’s contracting equity work, and I look forward to continued partnership with Mayor Durkan and the City of Seattle to deliver projects for our residents.”

The Executive Order directs the department of Finances and Administrative Services (FAS) to convene a workgroup to operate in partnership with the Mayor’s WMBE Advisory Committee. Going forward, compliance with WMBE performances metrics will be included in all City department director performance agreements to ensure accountability. Finally, beginning in 2020, FAS shall produce a citywide annual report by the end of the second quarter that will illustrate the prior year’s progress and performance on contracting equity and economic inclusion initiatives.

For more information on the City of Seattle’s WMBE program, including procurement opportunities, please visit this website.