On Thursday, February 16th, Mayor Adams announced the appointment of Michael Garner as Chief Business Diversity Officer of the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE). During his tenure as Mayor of New York City, Adams has repeatedly stated his stance on M/WBE and worked to support and elevate them through programs and policy. With the appointment of Garner, the office will work to create more equitable and inclusive environments for businesses. Adams has said that equity is a “top priority of his administration.”
In addition to the announcement of Garner’s new role, Mayor Adams also signed Executive Order 26, which stands to address disparities faced by New Yorkers, eliminate bias, and procure funds for M/WBEs. Adams also said that Executive Order 26 was based on studies that show that M/WBEs are underutilized when it comes to contracts from the city, so the order works to close that gap, working to offer opportunities to underutilized businesses. The groups that have been notably affected by ethnic and gender bias include Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native-Amerians, and Asian-Americans.
At the announcement, Mayor Adams said, “This administration has placed economic equity front and center as the city emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and recovers economically. By signing Executive Order 26 to increase the number of underrepresented ethnic groups awarded city contracts and appointing Michael Garner as chief business diversity officer of the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises, we are reaffirming our administration’s commitment to expanding opportunities for our minority and women-owned business owners.”
Adams concluded, “These support systems will build equity, boost our recovery, and create new opportunities for M/WBEs city wide. This is how we ‘Get Stuff Done’ and fight inequality right here in our own city.”
Mayor Adams directed city agencies to actively look to partner and award contracts with M/WBEs. This directive announced by the Adams administration raises the previous threshold of $500,000 to 1 million. Previously, $75 million was given to M/WBEs in contracts during the Fiscal Year 2019. In Fiscal Year 2022, M/WBE’s received $112 million in contracts, showing that the funds available to award to M/WBEs will continue to rise.
In addition to the threshold being increased, Executive Order 26 also has the chief business diversity officer, now Garner, consulting with the Mayor’s Office of Contact Services and the New York City Department of Small Business Services to routinely review data in regards to changes in groups that fall under the classification of underutilized, work to track and identify progress the city is making to lessen disparities, and make adjustments to current city policy based on the review.
Chief Business Diversity Officer Michael Garner spoke at the announcement, saying he was “honored and excited” to have been selected for the position. He said, “As this administration builds on the recent successes of the M/WBE program, we look forward to making New York City an even more inclusive and equitable economic ecosystem for all of our businesses, including the ones that have historically been under-represented in our city’s procurement environment.”
Garner continued, “We know that a disparity remains, not only between non-M/WBEs and M/WBEs, but also among certain ethnic and gender categories within our pool of diverse New York City-certified businesses. I commend Mayor Adams for taking bold action to systemically address these disparities, and I plan to leverage my 30 years of building successful M/WBE programs across multiple organizations in support of our shared vision. A vision that is rooted in ensuring that New York’s economic recovery is an inclusive one, and in building the best M/WBE program in the Fortune 500 capital of the world.”
Prior to his appointment as New York City’s first ever Chief Business diversity officer, Garner worked as the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). During his time at the MTA, he created the Small Business Mentoring Program for the MTA in an effort to break barriers for businesses across New York state that are owned by disadvantaged people, minorities, women, and service-disabled veterans.
Garner also previously worked at the New York City Housing Authority and the New York City School Construction Authority, ensuring funds were awarded to minority-owned, women-owned, and disadvantaged business enterprises (MWDBEs).