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Supplier Diversity Best Practices

Best Practices for State Agencies

For a printable version (pdf) of this list of best practices, click here.

Below are some best practices to increase participation of minority, women, and veteran owned firms. The Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) is happy to discuss how these strategies can be used in your agency. We can include appropriate staff from the Department of Enterprise Service (DES).

For questions or help, please contact or 360-359-6219. 

1. Proactively identify your contracting and procurement needs. Early planning is the key to supplier diversity.

  • Identify your agency’s schedule of planned procurements for the biennium.
  • If a schedule isn’t available, review historical data to identify general categories of goods and services your agency regularly purchases. Your agency’s response to questions one through four of the Procurement Risk Assessment report submitted to DES can help.
  • Break down your needs by type of procurement:

2. Review your procurement practices.

  • Review how purchases are bundled and whether unbundling these contracts will create more inclusion opportunities.
  • Understand your agency’s direct buy purchasing authority.
  • Is it likely bidders will subcontract work? Consider requiring bidders to submit an inclusion plan, where the contractor is responsible to set goals, identify small and diverse vendors, and report on subcontractor spending with diverse vendors.
  • Write solicitations and contracts in plain talk, which assists all bidders.
  • Review your agency’s standard contract language and reevaluate any requirements that may be barriers for small businesses.

3. Identify diverse options for each category of spend.

  • Use this search tool on DES’ website to identify master contracts with diverse vendors.
  • Use WEBS to identify all firms registered with DES. WEBS includes all certified veteran owned businesses. Businesses are able to self-identify as minority or woman owned, check OMWBE’s directory to see if they are certified.
  • Search the OMWBE’s directory of certified minority and woman owned firms.

4. Other Market Research and Outreach

If you cannot find a certified firm in your area of work, early planning will allow you to conduct market research and targeted outreach. Agencies should conduct outreach consistent with their submitted inclusion plans whether it is targeted for a specific contract OR future needs.

  • Contact OMWBE and DVA to identify other options for utilization of small businesses that are not certified.
  • Identify businesses that you are currently contracted with that may qualify for OMWBE or DVA certification.
  • Develop a communication strategy to engage small businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans. Assess how your agency does outreach and whether it is effective (e.g. partner with other agencies and distribute the connections, leverage the trade show costs)
  • Know where to refer a business that wants to be certified by the OMWBE or the DVA. See this multi-agency fact sheet for more information.
  • Contact certified minority, women, and veteran owned businesses and encourage them to bid.
  • Host, sponsor, or attend trade shows to inform small businesses of contracting opportunities. Check OMWBE’s web site or the DVA for upcoming events or call us.
  • Advertise contracting opportunities on OMWBE’s web site, your agency site and other organizations that distribute contracting opportunities (e.g. commission newsletters).

5. Monitor.

Monitor your agency’s spend with certified businesses throughout the year so you know what is working and can adjust your strategies as needed. You can access your agency’s Supplier Diversity Report through Enterprise Reporting.