Acting Mayor Kim Janey announced $2 million worth of initiatives designed to foster diversity in Boston’s much criticized public contracting process on Wednesday.
The initiatives build on work begun by former mayor Marty Walsh two months ago, after a city-commissioned study revealed that Black businesses have been largely shut out of Boston contracts.
The measures include a new, five-person supplier diversity team within the mayor’s office of economic development, a $750,000 opportunity fund, an equity goals pilot program and the city’s first director of strategic planning, who will help Boston’s procurement equity efforts “across all city departments,” the mayor’s office said in a press release.
“These initiatives are informed by input from my mayoral transition committee,” Janey said while announcing the initiatives from Roxbury’s Malcom X Park. The park, which is due for renovations, will serve as the pilot program’s first area of focus.
Janey said the aim is to invite “a diverse array of businesses” to upgrade the park’s and begin to fulfill the goals of Walsh's executive order mandating that 25% of city spending on contracts go to minority and woman-owned businesses.
The Waslh administration found that Black business accounted for 0.4% of the city's prime contracts and 1.6% of subcontracts. Hispanic businesses accounted for 1.8% of prime jobs and 2.4% of subcontracts.
Pointing to the results of the city's disparity study, Janey identified structural racism as the cause.
"These troubling disparities are the result of discriminatory policies that we have all inherited, and Boston now has a chance to do better as we recover, reopen and renew our city," she said.
City Councilor Michelle Wu, one of the six candidates for the mayor's seat (including Janey), criticized the acting mayor's move.
“Keeping the same goals set by the last administration of just 10% of city contracts to minority-owned businesses and 15% to women-owned businesses simply isn’t enough," Wu said in a statement. "Boston should set the standard for all cities."
Janey also announced Celina Barrios-Millner, who currently serves as the city’s director of equity and inclusion within the Office of Economic Development, will become the new Chief of Equity, a cabinet-level position Walsh created last year.
Barrios-Millner replaces Karilyn Crockett, who resigned last month.
Prior to working in Boston city government, Barrios-Millner led partnership development efforts at the State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance.