This past year marked several important milestones for SDOT. It was the first full year under new SDOT Director Scott Kubly and Women and Minority-Owned Business Enterprises (WMBE) Program Manager Edson Zavala. New leadership brought a renewed focus and direction for our equity and inclusion practices. Over the next nine years, the Transportation Levy to Move Seattle will give us an opportunity to include more people and businesses as we implement Seattle’s transportation vision.
The work undertaken by SDOT creates a significant footprint in our community. As such, we are in the unique position to leverage our purchasing power to further our community’s values around diversity and inclusion. The WMBE Program promotes opportunities for women and minority business owners within department contracts, fosters internal department support, and facilitates outreach within the community to increase WMBE inclusion.
The new vision for the WMBE Program continues to challenge existing practices to better align with the City’s commitment to equity. The department has risen to the challenge by enacting bold new strategies that change the way we do business in the development and delivery of transportation projects.
Key highlights include:
- An increase in payments to WMBE businesses in consulting and purchasing
- Meeting our 2015 12% consultant goal, and challenging ourselves for a greater 15% goal in 2016
- Marked improvement toward our purchasing goal
- Heightened WMBE accountability through newly implemented tracking
- Internal training such as the SDOT WMBE Advocate series to teach staff how to promote equity and inclusion
- External outreach efforts such as the Working with SDOT and multilingual Introduction to SDOT Workshops
- Providing advance notice of contracting opportunities
We still have work ahead of us. While we are making strides toward inclusion, further efforts are needed to embed an equity lens into our work process and strengthen our commitment to inclusion of women and minority-owned businesses.
To further solidify our commitment to equity, we are establishing the Office of Equity and Economic Inclusion (OEEI) within SDOT. The SDOT OEEI will facilitate our department’s commitment to race and social justice as well as equity in contracting. OEEI will work to ensure opportunity and fairness for all engaged in and affected by SDOT’s work.