The Port of Seattle recently undertook a disparity study to find out how we were doing as an organization when it comes to including minority- and women-owned businesses in Port contracts. A disparity study looks at marketplace conditions for minorities and women and how minority- and women-owned businesses fare compared to majority owned businesses. The comparison between the participation of MWDBEs in the Port’s contracting and the availability of those businesses to perform that work is referred to the disparity analysis. A disparity analysis is a key component of a disparity study. The Port's disparity study examined contract data to compare firms that received contracts with the Port of Seattle to the universe of firms that could have potentially received contracts. The study sought to identify race and gender disparities in the awards of construction-related contracts between 2012 and 2016.
The disparity study found that overall, WMBE firms were at a significant disparity on Port contracts during the study period. The following are recommendations for the Port to take to encourage equity.
• Increase resources for the Diversity in Contracting Program.
• Implement an electronic contracting data collection and monitoring system.
• Review size and scope of each contract. Unbundle contracts to make room for smaller firms in Port projects.
• Create a small business enterprise Mentor-Protégé’ program for the aviation industry.
The Port of Seattle recognizes that diversity and inclusion are vital to the success of an organization and will strengthen our region. Since the inception of Resolution 3737 (2018), which aimed to remedy the historical underutilization of WMBE firms and establish the Diversity in Contracting Department, WMBE firms bidding and being awarded Port contracts has increased. The Port of Seattle is committed to finding new ways to engage and encourage bidding from historically underrepresented groups. The Port will not only do what is legally equitable, but it will aim to be the model for other public entities.