Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Greater Des Moines

a group of individuals smiling and walking

Greater Des Moines (DSM) values diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and creating a welcoming community for all. DSM has the fastest-growing foreign-born population in the Midwest and is second in the United States, according to Heartland Forward. DSM’s minority population grew by 93% from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  

From collaborative initiatives to employers that champion DEI in their organizations, the DSM community is committed to learning, growing and building a diverse, equitable and inclusive community that welcomes and champions all individuals.

DEI Programs and Initiatives in Greater Des Moines 

Business, community and nonprofit leaders in DSM work together to advance several programs in the region focused on DEI.  

The DSM 4 Equity Collective is Central Iowa’s effort to increase equity by connecting the region to local data, resources and community initiatives. DSM 4 Equity collective develops tools, plans and goals that can build more equitable practices across businesses and communities in DSM and aims to assist the region in developing long-term metrics and indicators to gauge progress towards DEI efforts. Recently, the Collective released playbooks for employers in the region to use in their organizations and offers many other resources

The Greater Des Moines Partnership, DSM’s economic and community development organization, leads several initiatives to advance and champion DEI, including Scale DSM minority business accelerator, the CEO Commitment to Racal Equity and the annual Inclusion Summit and Awards.  

DEI Organizations in Greater Des Moines 

A strong network of DSM organizations are dedicated to advancing and promoting DEI as well as supporting individuals within diverse and underrepresented communities. Browse this list and learn more about how these organizations support DSM-ers and lead in creating a more equitable and inclusive community: 

Capital City Pride brings together the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and queer community along with their friends, allies and supporters and produced many cultural and educational events, including the annual Pride Fest

a child in a wheel char playing in a park

Easterseals Iowa is leading the way to full equity, inclusion and access through life-changing disability and community services and provides programs and services for all ages and life stages.  

The Director’s Council is a coalition of Black CEOs and executive leaders in DSM that seeks to improve the conditions of the individuals in the neighborhoods they serve. The Director’s Council leads many programs, including the African American Leadership Academy and One Economy. 

The Harkin Institute connects people with policy. Located at Drake University, The Institute serves as a venue and catalyst for dynamic non-partisan research, learning and outreach to promote understanding of the policy issues to which Senator Tom Harkin devoted his career, including policies that support people with disabilities. 

Iowa Asian Alliance unites diverse Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities with the purpose of fostering economic growth and broader community development within the state of Iowa. The Alliance works to promote business and economic growth, community and cultural vitality, leadership and educational advancement, and civic responsibility and engagement 

Latino Center of Iowa is a place where the Latino community can unite, develop leadership and share its culture and heritage. It promotes culture and develops leadership and connections for the future of the Latino community and Central Iowa. 

LadyLike inspires and empowers Black and African women in DSM and uses various facets to connect with women in efforts to fuel their desired commitment to the community while elevating local Black women talent and addressing the racial wealth gap through training, mentoring and entrepreneur support. 

Lutheran Services in Iowa serves many ways in the community, including within the immigrant and refugee community.  

One Iowa advances, empowers and improves the lives of LGBTQ Iowans statewide. Their work includes education, training for healthcare professionals, law enforcement, leaders and others, advocacy for policies that protect the civil rights, health, and safety of LGBTQ Iowans, and cultivating LGBTQ leaders.  

United League is a network of motivated donors who identify as Black or as allies, who are eager to address disparities in economic opportunity through volunteerism and advocacy. It is part of United Way of Central Iowa

Urban Dreams advocates for all members of the community, breaking down barriers to success and collaborating with key stakeholders to overcome obstacles and uplift underserved and underrepresented people. The organization provides numerous services and supports, job training and outpatient substance abuse treatment, among other vital supports. 

Additionally, numerous cities including Ankeny, Des Moines, Urbandale and West Des Moines have civil rights commissions that work to advance DEI within their city. 

Greater Des Moines DEI Events 

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Events throughout the year provide education and discussion about DEI and celebrate cultures. 

The Partnership’s Inclusion Summit is a day-long event with national speakers, workshops and panels. The Athene Black & Brown Business Summit elevates ethnic minorities and brings BIPOC businesses together to assist with connection building, programming, promotion, training and to provide resources to help businesses grow and prosper. 

Cultural celebrations like CelebrAsian, Latino Heritage Festival, Pride Fest and World Food & Music are can’t-miss community events that offer diverse flavors, art, music and opportunities to connect.  

The Capital Crossroads Events 4 Equity calendar is a great resource for finding more upcoming events.