By Audrey Martin
Boston University News Service
Last week, Mayor Michelle Wu filed a home rule petition with the City Council to expand access to Boston city contracts for minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs).
This proposal is part of a larger initiative by Mayor Wu and the city of Boston to make more city contracts available to local, diverse businesses and expand vital, wealth-building opportunities for women and minorities.
“This proposal will allow us to use every dollar possible to build wealth in our communities, address our racial wealth gap, and make our city a place for everyone,” said Mayor Wu in a press release on March 28. “I look forward to working with the City Council and the Legislature to advance this.”
The city defines an MWBE as a business organization that is beneficially owned or substantially invested in by one or more minority group members.
Anthony Field, Boston-based MBE Arrow and Stem Owner, creates eco-friendly bamboo products. This certified minority-owned business helps in larger business ventures and gives MBEs and WMBEs access to perks they wouldn’t otherwise have.
“Being a minority-owned business, there’s actually a lot of partnerships with larger corporations and organizations out there,” Field said. “I actually didn’t know much about it until I applied to be a supplier at Walmart and Target. There’s an auction to apply to be a minority-owned business, but to do that you have to be certified.”
Wu’s proposal is crucial because having business owners who bring diverse perspectives to the business world leads to greater innovation, said Field.
“You have all these businesses out there, and they might be very successful businesses, they’re coming from — I don’t want to say a one-sided perspective — but, it’s just one piece of the pie,” Field said. “If you really want to innovate and level up the possibilities of what people have to offer, that open-mindedness and that drive to push businesses of all types I think is super important.”
Shelley Webster is the owner of In Order Business Development Solutions. It is an MWBE-certified diversity, equity, and inclusion consultancy working to develop diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies for businesses that emphasize the importance of giving every business in Boston an equal opportunity to thrive in the business world.
“I think this is a great opportunity,” she said. “When people talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion they often conveniently leave out that equity part. And no one really wants to talk about what that means or what that looks like. It’s just so important because these small and emerging businesses don’t possess the same resources as larger, more experienced ones.”