Frequently Asked Questions

1.  What is a Disparity Study?

A: Disparity Studies are commissioned by an agency to determine if there is disparity between the availability of firms owned by minorities and women in a market area and the utilization of those firms by an agency.

2.  What is the purpose of a Disparity Study? Why is it necessary?

A: Disparity studies are used to determine whether there is evidence of discrimination in the market where the City makes its procurements that would justify the use of race-based and/or gender based remedies.  Such evidence is necessary to satisfy requirements for affirmative action set by the 1989 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson.

3. Is this different from the disparity study that the State is conducting? Do I need to respond to both?

A: The City and the State are each conducting separate disparity studies because their programs cover different geographic regions. Both studies are essential components in the process of updating the City and State’s respective M/WBE programs. It is important that your voice is heard and that you participate in both studies.

4.  What is anecdotal evidence and why is anecdotal evidence collected as part of the Study?

A: “Anecdotal evidence” is information that business owners provide about their actual experiences doing business, or trying to do business with the City, its prime contractors/vendors, and in the private sector.  Anecdotal evidence helps explain and lend credence to statistical findings that will come from the Disparity Study. Businesses in the market area will be randomly selected to participate in the in-depth interviews, focus groups, and surveys. All interested businesses are encouraged to provide comments about their experiences doing business, or attempting to do business with the City by submitting their written comments to the Contact Us page or emailing

5.  Why is it important that business owners participate in the study?

A: Business owners, both M/WBE- and non-M/WBE-owned, that do business or want to do business are impacted by the policies, procedures, and guidelines established as part of the City’s M/WBE Program. Participation in this study provides business owners the opportunity to give accounts of their experiences doing business with the City or its prime vendors. Input from the business community may direct the findings and recommendations for future policy changes.

6.  What factors are considered in determining whether disparity exists?

A: Disparity is calculated in the form of an index. The disparity index is a ratio of the percentage of utilization and the percentage of availability of M/WBE firms. If the disparity index is 100, the utilization of M/WBEs is equal with the availability of M/WBEs in the market area. If the index is less than 80, it indicates that M/WBEs are significantly underutilized by an agency based on availability of M/WBEs in the market area. An index between 80 and 100 – which is close to full participation – indicates underutilization, though not significant.

7.  What will the City do with the findings of this Study?

A: The City will review the recommendations provided by MGT to determine what modifications, if any, are needed to the City’s M/WBE Program.