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Business diversity team completes next phase of Availability and Disparity Study

MATTHEW HIRST | 4/1/2019, 2:42 a.m.
Minority and women owners of local businesses gathered to participate in a discussion about their experience of doing business or ...
Zarin Gracey, managing director of the Office of Business Diversity. City of Dallas

The Dallas Examiner

Minority and women owners of local businesses gathered to participate in a discussion about their experience of doing business or attempting to do business with the city of Dallas or on city projects during the City of Dallas Office of Business Diversity’s Availability and Disparity Study at the Bill J. Priest Economic Development Center, Feb. 26.

This meeting, the second of two meetings, fulfilled phase 1 of the study. To conduct this study, the city contracted MGT Consulting Group, a nationally recognized firm, to evaluate the utilization of Minority and Women Business Enterprise firms in the city’s procurement/contracting activities in architecture, engineering, construction, other services, professional services and goods, as explained in a statement sent out by Zarin Gracey, managing director of the Office of Business Diversity.

To begin, Gracey gave an opening statement, which included some background information over the study and why it is so important to the city government.

“In the spirit of our new city manager, TC Broadnax, he’s coming in wanting to create this culture of equity. He wants to make Dallas a more equitable city, whether you’re doing business, whether you’re living, whether you’re working, whatever it is – just making the city a more equitable place to live and work and do business. This is just a part of that study,” Gracey said, encouraging attendees to share their experience – negative, positive or both.

He further stated that the honest feedback, along with other facts discovered during the study, would help to reshape their programs to meet the needs of the city’s business community and make Dallas a more equitable place to do business.

“With that said,” he continued, “I have three words that I want you guys to just kind of help anchor your comments, your questions, your thoughts and your feedback. The first one is transparency. How can we be more transparent? How can departments be more transparent as a relation doing business with the city of Dallas? ... The second one is equity. Again, I already mentioned – how can we be more equitable across the board? Are you as a subcontractor constantly getting lowballed, or whatever it may be, when coming in through the doors of the city of Dallas because you’re a minority-owned business? Whatever the case may be, how can we as a city be more equitable? And then finally, the last one is accountability. How can we be more accountable? How and what can we do, as in my office at the Office of Business Diversity, how can we help departments be more accountable, how can we hold you accountable, and how you can hold yourself accountable?

“Yes, we want to understand the experiences and they need to catch those experiences, but more importantly, the other side of all of this is going to be a program that helps grow businesses. We have three objectives in the Office of Business Diversity: We want to build capacity, we want diversity compliance, and then we want opportunity creation.”