So, I-200 (prohibiting the state from using race or ethnicity in deciding student admissions, employment or contract awards) has lots of detractors, particularly among the minority-owned business community. But this quote is really eye-opening:
“I-200 has impacted state agencies in a way that in some cases they are overly cautious about reaching out to diverse suppliers,” Cooper says. “There’s this atmosphere of ‘I’m not sure I can do this’ and that does not level the playing field. It does just the opposite.”
Essentially, state departments are saying, “It’s not worth the potential headache to hire certified minority-owned firms, so I’m not going to.” No wonder that less than 1% of state contracts go to MBOs.
The underlying question is, in a period where certification is a hinderance, is it worth getting certified? Certification gives a stamp of approval to companies to say that they are truly owned at least 51% by a minority (or woman) owner, and that’s great for corporate contracting where large corporations have a certain spend that they’re trying to get to with diverse businesses. In fact, I know that a lot of companies ask some of their minority-owned firms to get certified so that they can count them officially in their reporting. But for government, where departments are prohibited from factoring in race, getting certified apparently opens up a whole can of worms. If we’re going to ask MBOs to get certified, which is a time and money consuming process, we better make sure there’s value in it.