Boston awarded less than 1 percent of $664 million in government work to diverse companies in 2018

Sobering data out this week from the City of Boston on the lack of participation by diverse businesses in the tax-payer funded public contracting. $654 Million in annual spend is a powerful engine for the CIty’s diverse and a powerful opportunity to create jobs and economic opportunity for minority, women, disadvantaged, veteran-owned, lgbt, and other diverse businesses. Unlocking access to the City’s government contracting market for these diverse businesses will be an inflectional point in the City’s history.

Despite Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s promises to use more women and minority vendors, and to diversify city construction contracts, Boston awarded less than 1 percent of $664 million in government work to such companies in 2018 — the first year the city was required to report such data under a new ordinance. That amount is far below what other big cities have awarded to businesses owned by women and minorities.

Released in early May, the statistic shocked many in the business community and may force City Hall to reassess the efforts that Walsh has championed since early in his first term.

“People knew it was a low number; they just didn’t know how low it was,” said Segun Idowu, executive director of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, who has since met with city officials to brainstorm new ways to diversify city contracting.