The Oakland City Council this week approved a contract to complete a “Race and Gender Disparity Study for the City of Oakland,” a decision for which Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan has fought for years.
The council, acting at its meeting Tuesday evening, approved a resolution authorizing a $491,000 contract with Mason Tillman Associates to conduct the study.
Even though the City Charter requires the study to be completed every two years, the last one took place in 2007, 10 years ago.
“I am thrilled that this is finally coming to fruition, said Kaplan. “Now the city can begin the important work of examining and remedying discriminatory practices, and working to achieve more equitable processes and outcomes.”
Kaplan successfully won funding in the last budget in 2014 to complete the disparity study, but the administration failed to move ahead on the project.
Like much of the country, Oakland has a troubling history of excluding Black-owned businesses and woman-owned businesses from equal opportunities to participate in city-issued contracts, said Kaplan in a statement.
When disparity was last studied in Oakland in 2007, large gaps and inequalities were discovered. According to Kaplan, people in the city have been so concerned about this issue that voters adopted a legal requirement in the City Charter that mandates Oakland to regularly conduct disparity studies and to take action to make sure that everyone has an equal chance to participate in business, jobs and the economy.
Oakland City Charter §808(b) states: “Every two years, the City shall conduct a race and gender disparity evaluation to determine if the city has been an active or passive participant in actual, identifiable discrimination within its relevant market place.
“If such disparity evaluation evidences such discrimination, the City Council, in order to remedy the discrimination, shall establish a narrowly tailored race and/or gender business participation program, as substantiated by the disparity evaluation, for the bidding and awarding of purchases and contracts.”