The Supplier’s City: How to meaningfully engage diverse vendors for economic inclusion
We cannot reduce economic inequality without addressing structural bias in the world’s largest marketplace: public procurement. In the U.S. alone, local governments collectively spend $1.6 trillion on the public goods, works, and services that touch our communities each year. But historically, how and with whom governments buy has reinforced the systemic barriers that make local minority- and women-owned businesses—which are known to reduce inequality, stimulate job creation, and support social cohesion—less likely to bid, win, and deliver government contracts.
But this is not the result of the broken system. This is the result of a system working by design. So, how to break the cycle? Reimagine our systems and rebuild trust by working together with local, small, and disadvantaged suppliers who have been historically excluded from this process. Addressing systemic inequality can help level the playing field for all potential vendors, and also help governments better align their supplier pool with their evolving priorities and values around economic development, equity, diversity, and environmental sustainability.
This panel discussion will bring together practitioners, researchers, and entrepreneurs to share their approach to transforming public procurement by engaging diverse vendors and acting on their feedback, especially those hardest hit by the pandemic. It will be a candid conversation on how unjust government spending systems can lock marginalized communities out of economic opportunity—and what we can all do about it. We’ll discuss how cities can tap into the 99% of our economies not involved in public procurement, think long term to imagine what a values-aligned supplier ecosystem would look like in 2030, and more.
Our speakers have individually worked to create more equitable outcomes for businesses and communities through government contracting. Together, they represent diverse sectors and regions, bringing in both expert researcher knowledge and lived experience as civil servants working to implement procurement reforms and underrepresented business leaders working toward inclusive and sustainable economies through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
- Sope Williams-Elegbe | Professor and Head, Department of Mercantile Law; Deputy Director, African Procurement Law Unit; Fellow, Public Procurement Research Group, University of Nottingham
- Coreata R. Houser |Deputy Director, Department of Innovation & Economic Opportunity, Mayor’s Office, City of Birmingham
- Paulina Bustos Arellano | Co-Founder, Cívica Digital; Professor, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México
- Sascha Haselmayer | Founder & CEO, Citymart (+ New America Public Interest Technology Fellow)
More information to come.