City of Columbus leadership has been strong in its commitment to minority- and women-owned businesses.
For more than a decade, my team and I have worked with the Coleman and Ginther administrations on projects as varied as the Reeb Avenue Center, CelebrateOne, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, Columbus Public Health, and Columbus Department of Education.
We are proud to have contracts with the City and we were grateful when an executive order was issued to ensure minority- and women-owned businesses were elevated during the shutdown to help address economic disparities.
Following the order, the Editorial Board of The Columbus Dispatch wrote an editorial calling for caution in the awarding of contracts to minorities and women to ensure they are qualified for the work.
“As well-intended as his order may be, the mayor would be wise to direct those granting city contracts to minority and women vendors to make sure they are well-suited for the work they are hired to do.”
The reaction was swift. Former Mayor Michael Coleman wrote a powerful letter to the editor expressing disappointment and outrage at such an overt statement of prejudice.
The Ohio Women’s Business Coalition was also quick in its rebuke, and their letter to the editor called out the gender bias while citing the impact of women-owned businesses (WOB) in Ohio.
- Over 306,000 WOBs
- $29 billion in revenues
- $9.5 billion in payroll
- 333,000 jobs created
- WOBs hire more employees for their size of business than men-owned businesses
Despite these statistics, a significant wealth gap exists between men- and women-owned businesses in Ohio. And, the effects of the pandemic on women-owned businesses have been stark with less than half considered essential businesses and two-thirds experiencing a decrease in revenue.
The Editorial Board issued an apology and made a pledge to do better. While that is a good step, it shows how entrenched old stereotypes and biases are in our workplaces and our culture.
On this Fourth of July holiday, I am grateful for the freedoms that exist. I was able to start a business with my laptop on my kitchen table 17 years ago. I have been able to grow my company and its impact while earning a WBE certification. That is not a possibility for women or minorities in many parts of our world.
While I am a proud business owner and stand with gratitude this holiday weekend, I also stand in recognition of this moment of reckoning in our country with its history of racism and sexism.
Thank you Mayor Ginther, Mayor Coleman, and the Ohio Women’s Business Coalition for your stand on behalf of thousands of minority- and women-owned businesses in our community.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO