Northam sets contract goals with women, minority-owned businesses in Virginia after disparity study results


Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam gestures during a COVID-19 briefing at the Capitol in Richmond, Va, Wednesday Nov 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam announced the results of the Commonwealth’s disparity study Friday which identified the need to address diversity in state contracting.

Following the results, Northam established goals of 23.1 percent discretionary spending with woman- and minority-owned businesses and 42 percent with SWaM-certified businesses in Virginia.

“State contracting, which represents more than $6 billion annually, can be a powerful tool to create economic opportunity. This study makes clear that the Commonwealth has significant work to do to maximize the participation of woman- and minority-owned businesses in state contract work,” said Northam.

“Our Administration remains committed to ensuring Virginia supports and benefits from our diverse business community, and this legislation will help advance our ongoing efforts to make the public procurement process more equitable, inclusive, and transparent.”

To encourage participation in the procurement process, the Commonwealth will support a substitute to House Bill 1784, sponsored by Delegates Jeion Ward and Rodney Willett and Senators Jennifer McClellan and Mamie Locke.

The bill outlines the specific goals as well as establishing a new division at the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (DSBSD). The division will work closely with the Department of General Services (DGS), Virginia’s primary procurement agency, to ensure that the set goals are met.

“I am proud to carry legislation that will enable woman- and minority-owned businesses across the Commonwealth to participate in Virginia’s procurement process,” said Ward. “I look forward to working with Governor Northam and my colleagues in the General Assembly to ensure a more equitable Virginia.” 

Northam directed the Commonwealth to conduct an updated disparity study when he signed Executive Order Thirty-Five in July 2019. The results from 2019 to 2020 show small changes but Northam’s office says there is still room for improvement.

“The Commonwealth’s disparity study identified many of the barriers that woman- and minority owned-businesses face in taking advantage of state contracting opportunities, and this legislation is designed to help eliminate them,” said Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Dr. Janice Underwood.

“We are prepared to implement these forward-looking policies as we continue our efforts to address the economic devastation this pandemic has caused and work together towards an equitable recovery.”

Read the results of the 2020 Commonwealth of Virginia Disparity Study.

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