As New York state’s diversity initiatives and mandates continue to evolve, our attorneys actively monitor opportunities, challenges and solutions for clients seeking to ensure compliance with laws regarding Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, or MWBEs, which are at least 51 percent owned and controlled by minority members and/or women. Recent events in this nation have caused private industry and government to recognize the need to increase economic opportunity for underserved communities.
Diversity awareness and sensitivity continues to grow in culture, client and consumer realms; and research indicates that diverse representation among leadership has potential benefits for company performance. In this context, it is critical for businesses and governmental contractors and entities to pursue and demonstrate diversity compliance.
As a result of the commissioned State of New York 2016 MWBE Disparity Study with a Final Report issued in June 2017, New York state has accelerated its efforts to give MWBE firms the opportunity for “maximum feasible participation” in the performance of state contracts and to promote diversity in companies doing business in New York state. Based on the 2016 Disparity Study, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has directed state agencies to double the current MWBE participation goal from 10 to 20 percent, and to ease bonding restrictions that these businesses will face. Additionally, in 2019, the Women on Corporate Board Study Act was passed to more precisely identify the number of women serving on boards of directors of companies incorporated or authorized to do business in New York state.
We counsel state agencies and authorities to provide a deeper understanding of their MWBE requirements, while helping businesses and contractors maximize their opportunities in New York state through MWBE procurements, supplier diversity initiatives, and diversity compliance. We advise on the mentorships and joint ventures with MWBEs that support compliance with state procurement regulations related to diversity. Our attorneys have worked with a diverse array of New York state agencies and authorities including the New York State Department of Economic Development, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Dormitory Authority for the State of New York, and the Empire State Development Corporation. Our attorney team comprises talented attorneys with experience in procurement, ethics and governmental relations.
After amendments in 2019, key changes made to Article 15-A of the NY Executive Law now include the following:
- Raising the threshold for personal net worth of a minority owner or woman owner to $15 million from $3 million
- Utilizing or mentoring certified minority and women-owned business enterprises in contracts awarded by a state agency or other public corporation
- Entering into partnerships, joint ventures or similar arrangements with certified MWBEs
- Making waivers of compliance publicly available
- Conducting outreach events, training workshops, seminars and other educational programs to state agencies, external stakeholders and the public
- Pursuing mentorship opportunities and other business development programs to support MWBEs in bidding on contracts with state agencies
- Establishing a more proactive role for the statewide advocate within the Department of Economic Development to conduct periodic audits of state contracting agencies’ compliance and investigate complaints by certified minority-owned business enterprises or women-owned business enterprises
- Eliminating set percentages for total annual statewide procurement in specific industries
- Recognizing workforce utilization efforts