As members of the Workforce Development Worker Equity Initiative, we appreciate this opportunity to submit ideas about how the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) can advance worker equity in your policies, programs, and procurement. We share the DOL's goal of fostering greater employment and economic opportunities for people from historically underserved communities.
We commend the DOL for being committed to increasing racial and social equity in procurement opportunities and offer the following recommendations:
Conduct proactive, concerted outreach to CBOs and networks in underserved communities, including via community and ethnic media outlets -- The DOL should conduct proactive outreach in underserved communities about DOL procurement opportunities. For example, the DOL should identify and build relationships with trusted community and civil rights organizations, minority business associations, higher education alumni associations including those affiliated with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), religious places of worship, and other civil society institutions to inform them about DOL procurement opportunities and to provide technical assistance and capacity building support. An additional effective outreach strategy is to publicize DOL procurement opportunities through Black-owned and other ethnic community media outlets including newspapers, television, radio, and social media.
Track demographic information for contractors and establish data-based goals for increased diversity and equity -- In order to measure progress in promoting racial and gender equity in federal contracting, the DOL should track demographic information for contractors and establish data-based goals for increased diversity and equity.
Support equal opportunity for worker cooperatives and worker owned enterprises, especially those owned by underserved community members, in the procurement process -- The DOL should expand opportunity for worker cooperatives and other worked-owned enterprises in the DOL procurement process. By increasing the number of worker cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises that are awarded federal contracts, the DOL would help to promote worker voice and workplace democracy.
Institute baseline job quality standards in DOL's procurement guidelines -- The DOL should maximize opportunities to institute high road employment standards through the procurement process. The DOL should assess its procurement guidelines and explore strategies to ensure that baseline job quality standards are required of every DOL contractor. For example, applicants that have a track record of violations of workers' rights should face a penalty in the procurement process. Moreover, successful applicants that are awarded procurement contracts should be required to meet and regularly report on baseline job quality standards. This will protect and support both workers and high road employers.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit these ideas on how the DOL can advance worker equity in your policies, programs, and procurement.