BY JORDAN GIBBONS
City Comptroller Scott Stringer is taking the City, corporate board rooms, and even his own office, to task for lacking in diversity.
Stringer provided the keynote speech at the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District’s annual meeting on Tuesday, where he focused on how the City and corporations nationwide do not support enough minority and women-owned enterprises.
In October, Stringer released a report by his office that highlighted how only four percent of the City’s $18.2 billion yearly expenditures go toward MWBEs.
“It’s really incredible, four percent,” Stringer said. “We’ve got 3,800 certified MWBEs, we’ve got 700,000 women and minority owned businesses throughout the City and yet, we only spend four percent on MWBEs.”
In that report, Stringer analyzed the spending of 32 City agencies and gave the City an average grade of D. He gave his office a C.
“We failed a lot of agencies for not spending with diverse companies in communities,” Stringer said. “We have got to do a better job spending so all communities can have the advantage of economic revitalization.”
Stringer said that small MWBEs are more likely to hire local residents in the outer boroughs, as well as neighborhoods such as Harlem.
He added that his office is working to take this mission to a larger scale by reaching out to corporations across the nation to transform their board rooms.
“We’ve got a male, pale, pardon this from me, stale mentality on our corporate boards and it has to change,” Stringer said. “Not because I’m here to tell you this is a civil rights issue or apartheid, I’m here to tell you we’re going to grow the economy, we’re going to grow corporations.”
Stringer said he is targeting companies that do not speak to diversity, creating more value for retirees and making investments in energy companies moving toward cleaner energy.
“Every study shows that when you have different people of different backgrounds sitting around a table thinking about investment strategy and corporate strategy, it’s just a fact, companies do better,” Stringer said.
Stringer also spoke about the efforts to revitalize neighborhoods like Jamaica, and said that the City has to make sure its developments do not destroy the character of the community people worked to build up prior to the City stepping in.
“We have to be very careful we do not evict the pioneers of the neighborhood,” he said.
Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) also spoke at the meeting, about the Jamaica Initiative planning and the work of the Jamaica Center BID.
“This BID and these individuals around this table represent the stakeholders in Jamaica,” he said. “As the process plays itself out, I’m looking forward to that day when we can all say that we really had a part in the development of the Downtown Jamaica Initiative.”
Jamaica Center BID’s Executive Director Rhonda Binda said this is an exciting time for Jamaica.
“I believe that we’ve entered into an unprecedented era of partnerships,” she said.
Reach Reporter Jordan Gibbons at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.