COVID-19 information
Boston is returning to a modified Phase 2, Step 2 beginning December 16. For the latest updates, please visit our coronavirus (COVID-19) website:
Back to top
Last updated:

Disparity Study

The study will identify challenges for minority- and woman-owned businesses in doing business with the City of Boston.

We're committed to the full and equal participation of minority-owned businesses (MBEs) and woman-owned businesses (WBEs) in City contracting. To that end, we've launched a Disparity Study to review City contracting. We want to find out whether or not these businesses face any barriers. We'll use information from the study to improve our policies related to M/WBEs.

BBC Research and Consulting is designing and conducting this independent study.

Have questions? Contact:

BBC Research and Consulting

Iris McClish, Director

Submit Comments

Submit your confidential comments directly to the project team: 

Email Project Team

What is a Disparity Study?

The City aims to create an equitable contracting process for MBEs and WBEs. We've contracted with BBC Research and Consulting to design and conduct an independent study to review our efforts.

A disparity study examines whether there are differences between:

  1. the percentage of dollars that minority- and woman-owned businesses received in contracts during a specific time period, and
  2. the percentage of dollars that those businesses would be expected to receive based on their availability to perform those contracts.

Comparing the participation and availability of businesses is referred to as a disparity analysis.

Other considerations

Disparity studies also typically examine information about: 

  • legal considerations around putting in place of M/WBE programs
  • conditions in the local marketplace for minorities, women, and M/WBEs 
  • contracting practices and business assistance programs currently in place, and 
  • potential changes to existing M/WBE programs.

Business Engagement Presentation

Learn more about the timeline, process, and strategy.

View the presentation

Tell us your experience

Business telephone surveys

The project team will conduct telephone surveys with businesses in the area that perform work that is relevant to:

  • City of Boston
  • Boston Housing Authority
  • Boston Planning & Development Agency, and
  • Boston Water and Sewer Commission contracting.

Telephone surveys will begin in January 2020 and will continue through summer 2020.

If we contact your business, please participate in the survey process to help ensure an accurate and comprehensive survey process!

In-depth interviews

As part of its collection of information, the project team will be conducting interviews with business owners throughout the area. Our goal is to collect detailed information about your experiences related to:

  1. starting a business
  2. trying to grow a business
  3. working with the City and other public agencies, and
  4. a variety of other topics.

If you are contacted, please participate in an interview to share invaluable information about your experience!

Our team held several business engagement meetings in fall 2019 to hear first-hand testimony from business owners about working with the City.

We want to hear from you!

Please submit any comments that you may have about your experiences working with the City or about the disparity study. Topics include:

  • any potential barriers that businesses face in being successful or growing
  • contracting opportunities with the City or other local government agencies
  • business assistance programs that the City or other local agencies currently use
  • any recommendations for additional business assistance programs that the City could consider implementing, or
  • the City of Boston Disparity Study.

Your comments will be treated confidentially. They will be part of the project team's analyses without identifying you as the source.

Email your confidential comments directly to the project team:

Submit Comments

Common questions


The disparity study will examine prime contracts and subcontracts that the City awarded from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2019. The study will examine:

  • construction contracts
  • professional services contracts
  • standard services contracts, and
  • goods contracts.

The study will also examine prime contracts and subcontracts that the Boston Housing Authority, Boston Planning & Development Agency, and Boston Water and Sewer Commission awarded during the study period.

Information that the project team collects will help the City with its implementation of procurement policies. Among other information, the disparity study will provide: 

  • An independent, objective review of the participation of minority- and woman-owned businesses in City contracts and subcontracts. That information will be valuable to both City leadership and to external groups that help to assess the City’s efforts to work with these businesses on City contracts. 
  • Information that is useful for setting a benchmark for the participation of minority- and woman-owned businesses.
  • Insights about how the City might improve contracting opportunities for local businesses and how it could better encourage minority- and woman-owned business participation.

There are several ways in which you can participate in the City of Boston disparity study: 

  • Share your experiences by emailing the project team directly at
  • Join us for a business engagement meeting where you can learn more about the disparity study process, submit verbal testimony, and ask questions. For details about the community meetings, see the events section above.
  • Respond to our requests for a telephone survey. If you represent a business working in the local marketplace, you may be contacted as a part of the survey process. If you are contacted, please help the project team by participating!
  • Call us if you have any unanswered questions (Iris McClish: 303-321-2547 x 245).

Yes, the results of the disparity study will be made public at the end of the process.