Denver International's Innovative Equity & Diversity Practices

The Denver International Airport (DEN) recently shared a compilation of best practices that promote equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA), and that other entities may adopt or adapt for themselves.

DEN's efforts include:

  • Adding language in all solicitations to support the airport's EDIA goals and those of the City and County of Denver, DEN’s Equity in Infrastructure Pledge commitment, and M/WBE firms as primes on projects. The language used by DEN in its solicitations is within the compilation.
  • Promoting contracts unbundling to facilitate Historically Underutilized Business participation. Encouraging separate solicitations can provide additional opportunities to bidders, rather than just one large contract award to one vendor.
  • Establishing the Center of Equity and Excellence in Aviation (CEEA), the first-of-its-kind in the aviation industry. The goal is to support Denver as it becomes the place where businesses across the country come to find aviation talent by serving as an accelerator for economic and workforce development, with an emphasis on increasing opportunity for HUBs.
  • Developing the nine-week Business Development Training Academy (an extension of the Center of Equity and Excellence in Aviation), which will help certified firms have a systematic approach to entering DEN as a subcontractor. A concessionaire-specific program is being developed and will launch in 2024.
  • Introducing the New Heights pilot program that offers employment and work experience to individuals exiting the justice system or who are living in transitional housing, serving as many as 40 individuals over a year to work in rotating maintenance crews. Participants are paid a prevailing wage and have access to wrap around-services.
  • The DEN Commerce Hub offers multiple opportunities to engage with the public and share opportunities that range from networking to technical assistance to how to do business at the airport.  Opportunities include Navigating the ACDBE Program; Meet the Primes, which connects primes with HUBs; and events that present contracting opportunities and connect HUBs with procurement and purchasing officials. 
  • The DEN Commerce Hub Community Panelist Program recruits community members to serve as panelists for DEN procurement evaluation panels. 
  • The Small Business Enterprise (SBE) certification allows Denver area small businesses to compete for construction-related and a wide range of goods and services being procured.  The program is race and gender neutral.  
  • Race and Social Justice Academy Training: The Mayor’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation (OSEI) provides ongoing training for City and County of Denver employees to learn foundational concepts, language, and how to activate equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) principles within the workplace. 
  • Denver’s former Mayor Michael B. Hancock developed Executive Order (EO) 150 to ensure that EDIA is present in language access for Denver’s growing diverse community and region. The EO requires city departments and agencies to develop a framework and policy for assessing applicability and translating vital documents into languages other than English, subject to FAA and other federal regulations. The EO will be effective January 2024.
  • Talent Acquisition Strategies and Employee Performance Management: DEN focuses on recruitment and retention practices using a data-driven approach to understand how hiring impacts the overall demographics of airport employees. Focus efforts include evaluating pay equity, upskilling, and improving inclusive recruitment practices.
  • Performance Management: DEN has designed goals for every city employee that are present in their annual performance reviews and are incorporated into the airport’s performance management model. Important to embedding EDIA principles in the culture of DEN is creating an understanding of these principles along with expectations for employees to incorporate them in their daily work performance. 

Best practices