COUNCIL ADOPTS PARKER LEGISLATION THAT BRINGS TRANSPARENCY AROUND AREAS OF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN MUNICIPAL CONTRACTS

In Cherelle Parker, Council News, News by PHL Council

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A package of three bills requires firms contracting with the City to disclose demographics such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, and other pertinent information regarding the staffing of their firm

PHILADELPHIA, PA, December 10, 2020 – City Council voted today to approve the Walter P. Lomax, Jr., Transparency in Business Act (WPL-TIBA), a package of three bills that will require any firm that does business with the City to provide a detailed report of the firm’s demographic makeup, information which will be publicly posted on the City’s website.

The report will include the race, ethnicity, and gender identity of the firm (staff, executives, board, etc.), along with information regarding Philadelphia residency, salary range, job title, and length of employment.

The legislation, introduced by Councilmember Cherelle L. Parker (9th District), augments her focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Have you ever wondered about the demography of the firms that reap significant benefits from doing business with the City?” Parker said. “Residents of Philadelphia have a right to know who is benefitting and building wealth from doing business with their local government. This legislation will bring transparency to what has traditionally been an opaque contracting process. We must be intentional about that. Recently, we have seen local businesses make very public commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This legislation will help shine a light on the effectiveness of their goals and objectives.”

Dr. Lomax, who passed away on Oct. 10, 2013, was laser-focused on ensuring that Black and Brown people have access to economic opportunity.

“Our father, Walter P. Lomax Jr., M.D., was a successful physician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who loved Philadelphia deeply,” said Sara Lomax-Reese, youngest daughter of Dr. Lomax and CEO of WURD Radio. “He modeled integrity, creativity, and ingenuity in business and in life. And he understood that to achieve real equity, you need access to real economic opportunity. Only then can we move towards true empowerment. This bill, named in our father’s honor, is a step in the right direction.”

Firms that do business with the City will be required to provide information regarding the firm’s prior business with the City in the previous five years, if applicable. The legislation would apply to contractors and subcontractors on both goods and services contracts valued at one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) or more. The legislation would also require contractors on competitively bid services contracts to disclose the demographics of the entities from which they draw their workers. The information required by the legislation would be publicly housed on the City’s website.

Said City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District): “We’re glad to see the passage today of the Dr. Walter P. Lomax Jr., Transparency in Business Act package of bills. As we seek to recover as a City from COVID-19 and the racial and economic disparities revealed by this pandemic, it’s obvious we need to do much better at ensuring that the City is doing business with firms and businesses that employ people of color and provide genuine opportunity to them to succeed and prosper. Councilmember Parker’s legislation is a constructive, positive step in the right direction.”

The legislation does not prohibit any firm from competitively bidding on City contracts. It simply requires that they commit to providing certain information in order to secure a contract with the City. It also does not establish demographic “quotas” for staff and firm leadership. Specifically, the information that will be collected from these firms will not be used to deny any of them the opportunity to bid on contracts.

Despite serious efforts and the best intentions, the City continues to fail in our efforts to contract with firms that reflect Philadelphia’s population. Philadelphia is a “majority minority” City, meaning most of our citizens Identify with a minority racial or ethnic group. However, according to the City’s Office of Economic Opportunity, each year the City aims to reach just 35 percent participation from minority, women, and disabled-owned enterprises (M/W/DSBs) on its contracts. And this data point only speaks to ownership; the City currently does not collect data on staffing for most bids, so we do not know whether a firm’s staff is reflective of the City’s population.

As part of the legislation, firms entering into City contracts valued at one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) or more will agree, as part of their contract, to provide demographic information along with information such as Philadelphia residency, salary range, job title, and length of employment. Firms will also agree to provide information regarding their prior business with the City for the last five years, if applicable. The firm will agree to provide this information for both contractors and subcontractors. If the bidder is unwilling to provide this information, then no contract shall be entered.

For competitively bid services contracts, firms must also agree to provide demographic data on the workforce of each “labor source” from which workers are likely to be drawn in the performance of any City contract. A labor source is a defined pool of trained and qualified individuals from which workers can be secured by agreement or through other means from an entity other than the contractor, including but not limited to a business, union hiring hall, job training organization, or registered apprenticeship program. The City will collect demographic data from each labor source that is not a City contractor or subcontractor on an every 6-month basis, rather than on every contract, and will inform firms when labor source demographic data is needed to satisfy the disclosure requirements.

All demographic disclosures will be submitted to the Department of Labor, or such other office as designated by the Mayor, at such times as determined by regulation. Violation of any requirement of this legislation or of the provisions of a City contract requirement shall be considered a substantial breech of the contractor’s obligation under the contract.

No later than April 1st of each year, the Director of Labor or such other officer as designated by the Mayor shall provide an annual report to the Mayor and the Clerk of Council summarizing the disclosures received during the previous calendar year. A copy of the report shall be posted on the City’s official website and also provided to area organizations that specialize in business growth and workforce development.

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