(TRENTON) – With the goal to ensure minority and women-owned businesses have more opportunities to provide services and goods to the public sector, the full Assembly on Monday voted 66-5-1 to advance legislation to expand the responsibilities of the State’s Chief Diversity to include monitoring the public contracting process.
Currently, the Chief Diversity Officer compiles information on the awarding of contracts to minority-owned and women-owned businesses. Under this bill (A-4274), the officer would also develop a statewide diversity and inclusion plan to ensure diverse candidates are considered for State positions, as well as promote the utilization of minority and women-owned businesses by State agencies, colleges and universities.
Sponsors of the measure, Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic) and Sterley Stanley (D-Middlesex) released the following statements:
Assemblyman Conaway: “Our state government must reflect the rich diversity of the Garden State in every action in takes, from appointing officials to awarding public contracts. The Chief Diversity Officer is responsible for ensuring women and minorities not only have a seat at the table, but also have a voice. Expanding the role of the Chief Diversity Officer will further promote inclusion and equity in our state.”
Assemblywoman Sumter: “In New Jersey, our diversity is our strength. Over half of businesses in our state are minority or women-owned, and almost half of ‘Main Street’ businesses are owned by immigrants. As vital drivers of our economy, these firms and their owners must be represented in the awarding of public contracts, which will provide them more opportunities to grow and thrive.”
Assemblyman Stanley: “As our state recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been more important to ensure equitable access to opportunity for groups hardest hit by this crisis. Empowering minority and women-owned businesses in the state procurement process will strengthen efforts to expand diversity and inclusion across our economy through our pandemic recovery and beyond.”