In 2015, at the request of Mayor John Cranley and City Council, the City commissioned a Disparity Study, which found a pattern of disparity related to City contracting practices, including under-utilization of African-American and women-owned businesses in various types of contracts (such as prime contracts for construction, professional services, and services and supplies, as well as subcontracts for construction and professional services).
To increase economic participation in City contracts for minority- and women-owned businesses, the City enacted C.M.C 324, which authorized creation of the City’s new Economic Inclusion Program, run by the Department of Economic Inclusion (DEI). DEI works with Procurement and City departments to establish subcontracting goals for minority & women-owned businesses to help bolster the City's other inclusion efforts.
DEI certifies vendors through its Business Certification Programs. Businesses are certified as either Minority-owned (MBE), Women-owned (WBE), or Minority Women-Owned (MWBE) under CMC 324 (these terms refer specifically to the City's Economic Inclusion Program).  The process of becoming a certified City vendor under C.M.C. 324 and 342 is explained on the Department's website