Transit agencies rarely hire women and minority contractors. Here’s why that matters.
What were some of these hurdles? Access to credit. Restrictions on available job opportunities, especially in fields like construction or tech. Urban renewal projects that demolished neighborhoods and bankrupted businesses owned by minorities. In an October 2016 report called “The Color of Wealth in the Nation’s Capital,” the Urban Institute offered some evidence that these disparities in opportunity have long-term effects:
Although there is a fairly sizable share of Black-owned firms in DC, especially relative to Black-owned firms nationwide, the share of business sales receipts going to Black-owned firms in DC and the nation is much lower than for White-owned firms. Comparable statistics for Latinos and Asians reveal that Latinos, business sale receipts in DC and across the United States are lower, while Asian business sales receipts are on par or higher than what would occur if business sales receipt were racially and ethnically equally distributed.
The report goes on to explain the cycle that keeps wealth out of the hands of the people who have historically had the least access to entrepreneurial opportunities:
There is a tendency to attribute the racial wealth gap to individual character flaws among people without wealth. … history of the structural barriers in local and national policies, Supreme Court rulings, programs, and practices … created wealth for many White families and prevented wealth accumulation or stripped wealth from many Black families."
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