City of Somerville

Agenda Item
Kept in Committee
Nov 6, 2019 6:00 PM

That the Administration initiate a Disparity Study to formally evaluate whether Somerville has a basis for implementing race- and gender-conscious contracting policies, and to serve as a baseline for future equity-based policies.


Department:City CouncilSponsors:Ward Three City Councilor Ben Ewen-Campen, City Councilor At Large Wilfred N. Mbah, City Councilor At Large Stephanie Hirsch, Ward Four City Councilor Jesse Clingan, Ward Seven City Councilor Katjana Ballantyne, Ward Two City Councilor Jefferson Thomas ("J.T.") Scott, Ward Five City Councilor Mark Niedergang, City Councilor At Large William A. White Jr., Ward Six City Councilor Lance L. Davis, City Councilor At Large Mary Jo Rossetti

Official Text

WHEREAS,              In order to determine whether there is a legal basis for implementing race- and gender-based contracting policies, Federal Law requires municipalities to undertake a Disparity Study to evaluate existing and past disparities and diversity programs; and

WHEREAS,              Reports from neighboring communities in Massachusetts have revealed striking disparities in contracting to minority- and women-owned businesses, including a report from Boston that less than one percent of $664 million in City contracts went to minority- and women-owned businesses in FY2018; and

WHEREAS,              The City of Somerville is committed to working towards economic justice, including by directly supporting minority- and women-owned businesses, and has recently launched a Somerville Business Diversity Catalog to highlight and support such businesses; NOW BE IT THEREFORE

RESOLVED,              That the City Council calls for the City of Somerville to release a Request for Proposals to undertake a formal Disparity Study of racial and gender disparities in existing and past city contracts, which would form the basis for policies to address any such disparities.

Meeting History

Sep 12, 2019 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

Councilor Ewen-Campen reported that at the last Housing and Community Development meeting, they were joined by the Executive Director of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts who gave two statistics: the first found that in Boston, the household median net worth for white families is $247,000 and for black families it is $8; the second is that in the City of Boston last year, of the $664 million awarded in City contracts, less than 1% went to minorities owning their own businesses. Councilor Ewen-Campen said the City needs to set goals to support businesses owned by minorities, and in order to do this, there is a legal requirement that the City actually document past and present disparities.

Nov 6, 2019 6:00 PM Video Housing and Community Development Committee Committee Meeting
draft Draft

Ms. Connor stated that the Administration is in agreement with Councilor Ewen-Campen that a Disparity Study is an important next step, and is now looking into initiating that process. Ms. Connor met and did some research with the City of Somerville’s Purchasing Director, Angela Allen. This is a good step to establish groundwork on preferences and transparency on data collection. Ms. Connor stated that, now that the Mayor’s office is now at back at full capacity following recent hires, they should be able to able to work on a possible Request for Proposals. Ms. Connor also stated this will require lots of work.