The has made great strides in its minority business enterprise and supplier diversity program.
The Board of Education approved the program in January 2007 and hired Kevin Cross as the director of purchasing and supplier diversity program in September of that year. He gave the board his first report in January 2008. Cross said the District spent $2.1 million on minority- (MBE) and women-owned (WBE) business enterprises at that time.
The purpose of the program is to seek and establish meaningful opportunities for bona fide MBE and WBE business enterprises to conduct business with the Hazelwood School District. The District has been committed to supplier and workforce diversity and implemented policies and procedures to support that commitment.
“Since the District implemented its supplier diversity program, we have seen steady increases in spending and the number of MBE and WBE firms over the last four years,” said Cross. “The current report, delivered in August and covering the 2011-2012 school year, showed we spent $5.3 million on MBE and WBE business enterprises.”
This year, HSD was invited to participate in a first-of-its-kind construction task force, which focused on workforce and business development initiatives targeting minorities and women. In 2007, HSD earned the MOKAN Institution of the Year Award. In 2008, HSD earned the St. Louis Minority Supplier Development Council’s Institution of the Year (SLMSDC) Award and has also been a finalist for the SLMSDC’s Institution of the Year Award in 2010 and 2011.
“We have experienced year-over-year spending increases with MBE and suppliers, professional service providers and subcontractors since the inception of the program,” said Cross. “We are beginning to see sustained growth with our MBE business partners. Most importantly, the District has proactively sought qualified minority businesses as part of our normal business practices.”
The HSD Board of Education approved work force diversity goals of 25 percent minority and 5 percent women for construction projects of $250,000 or more. In Phase III of its Hazelwood 1st facility updates bond issue, HSD has attained 34.8 percent MBE construction and 5.2 percent WBE construction participation, surpassing its goals of 25 and 5 percent, respectively. For Phase III workforce diversity contracts, HSD has attained 31 percent minority workforce construction, exceeding its goal of 25 percent, and 3 percent women workforce construction.
Minority and women business enterprise spending increased 22 percent from previous year. Total minority and women business enterprise spent for the 2011-2012 fiscal year was $5.3 million.
“We have seen significant changes in how general contractors come to the bidding process,” he said. “They now know they must do more than just meet our goals; they now understand the goals must be exceeded. In the past, they made excuses such as, ‘There are no available MBEs or WBEs to perform the work.’”
HSD has attained its goals of purchasing District MBE services and supplies from operating funds - 25 percent MBE services and 17 percent MBE supplies. The goals were 25 and 15 percent, respectively. In its supplier diversity program, HSD has attained 1.2 percent WBE services and 2.3 percent WBE supplies purchased from operating funds. The goals were 5 percent.
“Doing business with MBEs and WBEs is not done for the sole purpose of achieving a goal; it is done because it is good business,” summarized Cross. “The community we serve demands it.”