Harris Health System, the public health system of Harris County, Texas has announced the findings of a disparity study commissioned by its Board of Trustees in 2020 which reviewed its use of Minority-and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) for locally sourced contracts.
The study, conducted by Colette Holt & Associates, shows Harris Health’s utilization of MWBEs during fiscal years 2018 and 2019 resulted in only 7.9% of analyzed contract dollars going to MWBEs. System leaders acknowledge more should be done in this regard.
“We all know Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises and small businesses are the backbone of our country and county, and Harris Health will embrace this opportunity to invest more dollars back into small businesses in our local community,” says Harris Health System CEO Esmaeil Porsa, MD. “This study provides a road map and starting point for how we can better serve our community in addition to the quality healthcare we provide.”
Harris Health System ranked in first place across the United States for its “commitment to equity, inclusion and community health,” according to the Lown Institute, a Brookline, Massachusetts-based health policy think tank.
Porsa adds: “We want to achieve this level of equity in our business relationships, and mirror that success.
“It’s just the right thing to do.”
The study examined whether all firms have equal access to contracting opportunities on Harris Health’s prime contracts and associated subcontracts and recommended strategies to ensure full and fair competition, such as implementing race-and-gender-conscious measures for its procurement programs, and creating a senior leadership position to oversee efforts toward diversity and inclusion in contracting. Additionally, the adoption of a new MWBE program was recommended along with an aspirational goal of spending 20 per cent of eligible contract dollars with certified firms across industry categories.
The Harris Health System Board of Trustees were briefed on the findings, which included the statistical and anecdotal data necessary to help Harris Health consider its path forward in adopting a race-and gender-conscious procurement program for locally funded contracts.
As a general matter, it was recommended that Harris Health model its program on the recently adopted program for Harris County. Harris Health plans to bring periodic updates to its Board of Trustees as its program is developed and implemented.
Colette Holt & Associates is a national law and consulting firm specializing in issues related to Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise programs, business diversity initiatives and, affirmative action issues. The firm conducted similar studies for Harris County and numerous other Texas governmental entities.
A copy of the study, its findings and recommendations can be found on the Public Notices section of harrishealth.org.