Governor Business Diversity Initiative

Supporting small and minority, women’s and veteran-owned businesses in state contracting is a priority for Gov. Jay Inslee and the state of Washington. Small businesses are the backbone of the state economy – about 95 percent of state businesses are small. Washington small businesses also employ 1.1 million workers, which is about 40 percent of Washington’s total workforce. Many of these businesses are women-, minority- and veteran-owned.

Ensuring these businesses have contracting opportunities gives Washington state government access to a wider array of business solutions, helps drive innovation and strengthens our economic growth. Successful small businesses led by minorities, women and veterans help make our economy and our families more resilient – strengthening our communities and improving the quality of life for all Washingtonians.

“As governor, one of my top priorities is to foster a strong economy that works for everyone. That means more opportunity, greater prosperity and a better quality of life for all.”-Gov. Jay Inslee

Subcabinet Formed

Washington’s diversity is one of its greatest economic and cultural strengths, yet for good and services contracts and public works projects only 2.8 percent of the $5.7 billion that the state spends with the private sector is with small businesses owned by women, minorities or veterans. Diversity in state contracting is good business and good for the state. We need to do better. That’s why Gov. Inslee formed the state’s Business Diversity Subcabinet.

Action Plan

The Subcabinet is working to carry out a comprehensive action plan for sustainable results.

Measurement Framework Community of Practice Improve Certification Experience Technical Assistance Disparity Study Legal Clarification
Measurement Community Improve Technical Assistance Disparity Study Legal Clarification

Measurement Framework
MeasurementThe state currently measures the percent of its spending with small, minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses. The Subcabinet is working to establish a suite of measures to drive meaningful results.

Complete: Initial research by multi-agency team and project scope approved.

Next Steps: Fall 2016 – Subcabinet work group will work to better understand community and agency needs, create a draft dashboard of measurements and gather feedback on the draft dashboard.

Community of Practice
CommunityAs a state, we need a strategic, coordinated approach to improve contracting opportunities for small, minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses. A key element is establishing a “Community of Practice.” This network for state procurement professionals promotes learning and continuous improvement to help refine procurement tools and processes, and also incorporates a common business philosophy and set of habits. We will use an “agile” approach that allows us to quickly pilot new tools based on individual agency successes and then work together to improve them.

Complete: Initial Community of Practice tool prototypes developed.

Next Steps: Fall 2016 – Launch multi-agency forums and online community forum; begin using and refining first set of procurement tool prototypes; begin a mixture of pilot programs at multiple agencies.

Improve OMWBE Certification Process
ImproveOMWBE is reviewing its certification processes for small minority- and women-owned businesses and working to eliminate any unnecessary barriers and improve certification time frames.

Complete: Reviewed certification process, identified improvements and proposed changes to state certification rules.  

Next Steps: September 2016 – OMWBE will implement improvements that do not require updates to state rules. 

Fall 2016 – Agency will seek public comment on proposed changes to state rules. 

Technical Assistance
Technical AssistanceA subcabinet work group is developing options for enhancing resource referral services to small businesses.

Next steps: Develop a scope for the project.

Disparity Study
Disparity StudyWashington is conducting a statewide disparity study that will provide valuable information about how well agencies are doing when it comes to including minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses in state government contracts and purchasing.
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Legal Clarification
Legal ClarificationThe Subcabinet has requested a formal opinion from the state Attorney General regarding RCW 49.60.400 (state initiative I-200).


Get Involved

Community feedback is essential to the subcabinet’s efforts. People who are interested in these efforts are encouraged to contact

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