Wall of Shame

We at OhioMBE are committed to supporting minority businesses. The Wall of Shame highlights those who have harmed these businesses, going against our values of fairness and equality. This page reminds us of the challenges minority businesses face and our mission to ensure fair business for everyone.

Columbus City Council:

Shannon G. Hardin
Council President
Chair: Finance; Rules & Reference
Rob Dorans
President Pro Tem
Chair: Public Utilities; Zoning; Workforce Development; Building and Zoning Policy
Nicholas J. Bankston
Council Member
Chair: Economic Development; Small & Minority Business; Technology
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla
Council Member
Chair: Public Service & Transportation; Neighborhoods and Immigrant, Refugee, and Migrant Affairs; Veterans, Senior, and Disability Affairs
Emmanuel Remy
Chair: Public Safety; Environment; Administration

City of Columbus Office of Diversity & Inclusion

As OhioMBE, dedicated to promoting fairness and equity in business opportunities, we announce the placement of the City of Columbus Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) on the OhioMBE Wall of Shame. This decision is informed by the financial data from 2019 through the first half of 2023, which paints a troubling picture of disparity in earnings and opportunities for Black women-owned businesses in Columbus, particularly in high-value sectors like construction.

Despite the presence of certification programs and initiatives designed to foster diversity and inclusion, there’s a glaring disparity. For instance, in the first half of 2023, Black women-owned businesses earned just over $2 million, while their White counterparts earned nearly $14 million. This trend is consistent with data from previous years, showing a continuous gap:

  • 2023 (Q1 & Q2):

    • Black Women: $2,150,317.45
    • White Women: $13,705,579.39
  • 2022:

    • Black Women: $2,779,355.35
    • White Women: $18,660,709.68
  • 2021:

    • Black Women: $3,207,669.47
    • White Women: $12,585,513.46
  • 2020:

    • Black Women: $1,896,468.62
    • White Women: $15,974,550.47
  • 2019:

    • Black Women: $1,989,970.68
    • White Women: $11,328,120.29

This data is not just a collection of numbers but a stark representation of missed opportunities and unfulfilled potential for Black women entrepreneurs. The irony is that initiatives meant to level the playing field are benefiting those already in advantageous positions. Black women, one of the most historically marginalized groups, are still struggling for equitable recognition and success.

The City of Columbus and the ODI must critically re-evaluate their approaches. The appointment of a Chief Diversity Officer without direct supplier diversity experience and the closure of the construction planroom during a construction boom are decisions that have hindered, rather than helped, minority businesses.

Furthermore, the implementation of the disparity study’s recommendations appears symbolic rather than substantive. Questions linger about whether the ODI is genuinely committed to these recommendations, particularly in light of decisions like including non-citizens in the certification program.

The City of Columbus and the ODI need to realign their actions with their stated goals of equity and justice. This involves not only providing access but also actively ensuring that Black women-owned businesses are receiving significant opportunities and resources. Open and transparent dialogue with the affected communities, understanding their barriers, and involving them in solution creation are vital steps towards real change.

The placement of the City of Columbus ODI on the OhioMBE Wall of Shame will remain until there is tangible evidence of improved outcomes for Black women-owned businesses. It is time for the city to demonstrate its commitment to building a stronger, more inclusive economy where the diversity and talent of all its citizens are not just recognized but actively supported.

Columbus City Schools

We  announce the placement of Columbus City Schools on the OhioMBE Wall of Shame. This decision is due to their consistent failure to meet the established board policy target of allocating 20 percent of contracts to Locally Economically Disadvantaged Enterprise (LEDE) vendors during the 2021-2022 school term and for the past 10+ years, despite the predominantly African American student body.

The 2021-2022 term data, as well as the trend observed over the past decade, reveal a profound and ongoing shortfall in the district’s engagement with LEDE vendors. Notably, LEDE spending accounted for only about 5.12% of the total district spend in the 2021-2022 term, significantly below the 20% target. The persistent underperformance over the years highlights a systemic issue requiring immediate and sustained action. The distribution of this spending between African American and Caucasian vendors further underscores concerns about equity and representation:

  • African American Vendors: 68 vendors received a total spend of $8,141,331.09, representing 48% of the total LEDE spend, with an average spend per vendor of approximately $119,725.
  • Caucasian Vendors: 31 vendors received a total spend of $6,025,297.54, about 35% of the total LEDE spend, with an average spend per vendor of approximately $194,364.

These figures from the 2021-2022 school term and the decade-long trend of not meeting LEDE spending goals indicate not just a failure to meet policy targets but also a significant disparity in the distribution of contracts, particularly in a district where the student body is predominantly African American.

OhioMBE expects Columbus City Schools to undertake a comprehensive, immediate, and historical review of its contracting processes. The district must proactively engage with minority-owned businesses and implement transparent, actionable measures to meet and exceed the 20% LEDE spending goal consistently. Addressing the disparities in average spending per vendor and the long-standing underperformance in LEDE spending is crucial to ensuring a more equitable distribution of contracts, particularly among African American vendors.

The district’s placement on the OhioMBE Wall of Shame will remain until significant and consistent improvements are observed over a sustained period. OhioMBE is committed to working alongside the district, community leaders, and vendors to monitor developments, provide support, and advocate for practices that reflect the district’s values and the community it serves.

This announcement is a call to action for Columbus City Schools to foster a more inclusive and equitable business environment, guarantee fair access to contracting opportunities for minority vendors, and uphold their commitments to diversity and equity. OhioMBE will continue to advocate for these principles and hold institutions accountable for their long-term impact on the communities they serve.