Compliance with Diversity Goals Remain Lacking

Government construction leads the way in creating a more diverse environment for contractors and subcontractors, but more work remains to be done.

Source : Pexels

June 3, 2024

Author : Alex Bustillos and Patty Allen

Is the government construction sector changing to reflect a more diverse population in America?  For decades now, since the civil rights movement, programs have existed to better integrate women and minority firms in the industry.

However, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) cannot just be enforced by the government legislature alone; there needs to be acceptance and adoption at the ground level among the officials, prime contractors, and subcontractors. 

At Contractor News, we have reported extensively on new governmental policy and the laws introduced to ensure businesses owned by people of color, women, and disabled veterans get their fair share of government-funded projects and procurement contracts. 

For example, local and state government agencies and federal institutions are rigorously implementing the DBE (diversity business enterprise) goals and undertaking Diversity Studies to address diversity gaps. 

A 2021 survey has shown that construction sites are nearly 87.9% white and 89% male. But what about the claims that agencies are exceeding their set goals? There are capacity challenges, missing or untracked metrics, and regulatory challenges. In some extreme examples, contractors are accused of using "pass-through" strategies to accomplish goals on paper but not on the construction site.

In a recent interview with Construction Dive, Paula Finch, an attorney at St. Louis-based Greensfelder, explained that while the overall requirements in supplier diversity remain the same, each jurisdiction has its own challenges. But even though there is a set percentage under the law. However, these cross-sections of society have been so historically underrepresented that there aren't enough firms owned by women and minorities to actually meet the prescribed quota.

As a result, it creates a contracting environment with the potential for inherent conflict.

This is where many local agencies and contractors use the "good-faith" clause. Prime contractors cannot just get away by saying they "tried" to find a subcontractor from women, minority, or disabled-veteran-owned businesses. There needs to be proper proof to showcase the legwork behind your effort to work with these DBEs and that there is an actual lack of qualified suppliers to fill the gap.

The unintended implications of these goals can occasionally result in prime contractors attempting to be innovative to make their proposal appear better than the company that isn't trying as hard because everyone wants to place the best bid.

One of the biggest hurdles to executing diversity goals is the issue of compliance. At the federal and DOT level, compliance staff visit job sites to do checks, while in some states like Indiana, prime and subcontractors are also required to have their own individual reports on the contract amount, payment amount, and due. 

For many years, compliance has been the weakest link in supplier diversity. If you are a company looking for a solution to reach diversity compliance goals on construction projects, Compliance News is one platform that can assist you. 

They help companies to achieve "Good Faith Effort" outreach goals. Their high-tech dashboard allows contractors to put up outreach bid notifications, select a list of certified firms, and then contact them through fax, email, and phone calls. They will offer affidavits and logs that detail the entire step-by-step process, and at a good price.

To keep up with latest on government construction and its various dimensions, follow us here at Contractor News.

Category : Disparity Studies Diversity Outreach

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