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King County Disparity Study

King County Disparity Study


King County is conducting a disparity study to ensure equal access to contracting opportunities for minority and women owned business enterprises (M/WBEs). The study aims ensure that the current initiatives remain legally defensible and administratively successful.

The study will focus on the extent to which M/WBEs have equal access to County contracting opportunities involving construction projects, architecture/engineering services, and other professional services associated with construction projects. The disparity study is part of the County’s pro-equity contracting initiative as set forth in Executive Order CON-7-28-EO.

About the Study: King County is dedicated to fostering a just, inclusive, and economically vibrant community. The disparity study is essential for the following reasons:

  •  Identifying and Addressing Systemic Inequalities: The disparity study will examine whether M/WBEs have equal opportunities in County projects and the broader market area, identifying disparities between the availability of M/WBEs and their utilization on County contracts and related subcontracts. By pinpointing potential barriers and systemic inequalities, the study will help create targeted strategies and policy recommendations that can dismantle these obstacles and promote a level playing field for all businesses.
  • Promoting Entrepreneurial Success: A pro-equity approach to economic development involves understanding the factors that contribute to entrepreneurial success for M/WBEs. The disparity study will examine crucial elements such as access to business capital, bonding, networks, and suppliers. By identifying areas where M/WBEs may face challenges, the County can develop tailored solutions that empower these businesses to thrive and create jobs within their communities.
  • Addressing the Effects of Past and Present Discrimination The disparity study will gather anecdotal evidence of any continuing effects of past or present race and sex discrimination on M/WBEs. This information will help King County understand the impact of historical and ongoing discrimination on the local business landscape, informing initiatives and policies designed to redress and prevent further harm.
  • Ensuring Legally Defensible and Administratively Successful Initiatives: The study's findings will ensure that the County's current initiatives promoting M/WBE access to contracting opportunities are legally defensible and administratively successful. By conducting the disparity study, King County demonstrates its commitment to transparency, accountability, and evidence-based policymaking, all of which are vital for advancing equity and social justice.
  • Fostering Community Engagement and Collaboration: The disparity study offers an opportunity for business owners, industry partners, and community partners to actively engage in the process, share their experiences, and contribute to the development of future programs and enhancements. This collaborative approach underscores the importance of collective action in promoting equity and inclusion within King County's business ecosystem.

The Expert Team

Colette Holt & Associates (CHA), a nationally recognized expert team on disparity studies and M/WBE programs, has been awarded the contract for this study. CHA has extensive experience working with several agencies in Washington State and will partner with local DBEs Yates Consulting and WindGypsy Consulting to assist with community engagement and data collection.

How to Get Involved

Your involvement as a business owner, industry partner, or community partner is crucial to the success of this study. You can contribute in the following ways:

1. Providing Contract Information: The study team may contact you to confirm or supplement contract information. Your cooperation is essential for an accurate analysis of M/WBE utilization on County projects.

2. Agency Group Meetings: The consultant will meet with agency groups to gather feedback and expertise about the experiences and needs of their members.

3. Anecdotal Data Collection: CHA will distribute electronic surveys, conduct small group interviews, and solicit written comments from business owners to gather information about firms' experiences in the County and throughout the Puget Sound and Washington State economies.

To learn about sessions related to your business or organization, or to submit written comments, please email CHA at

For commonly asked questions surrounding the disparity study, you may visit the Frequently Asked Questions page.