Article by Faith Jackson and Velma Korbel
“I’m so happy we’re having this discussion, it’s most needed.”
– Kolu Paye, City of Minneapolis (Roundtable Participant)
On Wednesday June 24, 2015 subject matter experts and practitioners from across the Twin Cities Metro gathered inside the Minneapolis Convention Center for an interactive discussion on the successes and challenges of their work on business and workforce inclusion.
Roundtable participants discussed practical and aspirational best practices used by metro agencies that provide enforcement and oversight for business and workforce inclusion programs. The Roundtable was divided into two segments. During the morning, participants shared personal testimonies of inclusion efforts which they are most proud of and which have achieved the most success. Participants next identified the Metro’s most challenging issues and barriers to successful inclusion. Another morning feature was GARE’s own Julie Nelson’s insightful presentation outlining the national best practices used by government agencies involved in equitable contracting.
In the afternoon, participants separated into small workgroups and non-participatory facilitators led a series of breakout sessions. Equipped with flipcharts and probing questions, participants began building a catalog of best practices in the following focus areas: Certification, Goal-Setting, Good Faith Efforts Use and Evaluation, Contract Monitoring, Contractor Compliance Reviews, Handling Violations, Supportive Services & Technical Assistance, Race & Gender Neutral Initiatives, Business Development, Use of Technology, Work Force Planning and Projection and Affirmative Action Compliance Reviews.
After lunch, representatives from each of the breakout groups summarized their work. During the report back presentations, participants were encouraged to ask questions and offer constructive feedback. The afternoon concluded with a discussion on efforts to conduct a regional disparities study. Careful not to lose momentum, before dismissing, Roundtable participants outlined next steps for further collaboration.
The Roundtable was co-sponsored by The Minneapolis Department Of Civil Rights, Minnesota Unified Certification Program (MnUCP), and The Government Alliance On Race & Equity. Several members of the Alliance’s cohort participated including: Metropolitan Council, The City of Saint Paul, and The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Other participants included: Minnesota Department of Administration, Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Management and Budget, Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, Metropolitan Airports Commission, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, University of Minnesota, and Minneapolis Public Schools.
Velma Korbel, Director of the Minneapolis Department of the Civil Rights served as the Roundtable host. The Roundtable was developed as a result of the sponsors’ desire to research and identify the best practices and processes used on the projects in Metro and the surrounding regions that have been most successful in meeting workforce and business inclusion goals. Korbel says, “In a quick review of the guiding regulations for our various equity and inclusion programs, the recurring theme is that every one of our organization’s regulation, statute or ordinance states that we exist to confront discrimination, and to remedy the effects of past discrimination against historically disadvantaged persons. Furthermore, it is immediately evident to anyone reading about our missions, that our organizations believe that discrimination menaces the institutions and foundations of democracy, and degrades individuals, fosters intolerance and hate, and creates and intensifies socio-economic disparities. Thus, today is an opportunity to learn what partner entities are doing to fulfill our responsibility to include women and minority business enterprises in our purchasing and contracting efforts.”