New Committee Looks to Boost HISD’s Supplier Diversity Initiatives

HISD’s Supplier Diversity Advisory Committee got its second look Friday at proposed changes that would build on the success of the district’s program for minority and women-owned enterprises.

The committee, launched in December, is moving forward with a plan to hold firms more accountable in meeting the district’s M/WBE goals with a new scoring system designed to encourage outreach and participation.

The proposed changes come as the district moves forward with its 2012 bond program to repair, replace or build 40 schools. The goal of the committee is to provide input on how the district can improve M/WBE outreach efforts and accountability.

The district’s M/WBE program has already seen a record level of success with M/WBE participation in the 2007 bond program at 33 percent. As the 2012 bond program unfolds, HISD wants to build on that progress and find new ways to encourage M/WBE participation.

“This is going to be a tremendous positive for the community at large,” said Sam Pineda, a volunteer committee member representing the National Association of Minority Contractors.

Other volunteer committee members represent the Asian Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Black Chamber of Commerce, the East End Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council, the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston, and the Women Contractors Association and the Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance.

At the group’s second meeting on Friday, members reviewed a new scoring system that provides firms with multiple good faith effort options to meet M/WBE goals. Some of those initiatives include placing advertisements to find M/WBE subcontractors or attend pre-bid conferences where they can network with potential M/WBE partners.

The new system would also grant points to companies that serve as a mentor to an M/WBE company or have company policies that support M/WBE participation. In another change, the district would now hold firms accountable if they drop an M/WBE partner. Under those circumstances, the company would need to notify HISD and provide a signed change request.

The goal of all the changes is to further strengthen the district’s M/WBE program and encourage companies to do business with M/WBE partners.

“Minority and women businesses are an important segment of Houston’s business community,” said Alexis Licata, general manager of HISD’s Office of Business Assistance. “Because of HISD’s commitment to M/WBEs, we have established this committee to ensure we are focusing on initiatives that will provide opportunities, while building capacity for M/WBE firms.”

The committee will hold its next meeting at 10 a.m. on Feb. 22 at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center.