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City of Seattle announces new disparity study

WA News - Published Jul 20, 2021

The City of Seattle has announced two new initiatives that are meant to help remove inequities in the City's procurement process. The first is a new disparity study into conditions for women- and minority-owned businesses (WMBEs) in City contracting. The second is a WMBE Advisory Committee, launched by Executive Order from the Mayor's Office.

The study does not yet have a set timeline. The length of the study and its focus will be determined in part by the results of input at upcoming public meetings, which have yet to receive firm dates. The study is expected to look into the availability, utilization, and experiences of WMBEs in City procurement, with an eye towards providing potential remedies if disparities are found. A disparity study can form the basis of legal defensibility for WMBE programs and their remedies.

The new WMBE Advisory Committee that was established by executive order has 12 members, appointed for two-year terms. Their purview will include evaluating existing City procedures and initiatives with an eye to ensuring the City is ensuring equity for WMBEs in the procurement process.

"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 in a statement.

Learn more about the City's MWBE program page at https://www.seattle.gov/purchasing-and-contracting/social-equity/wmbe.