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Beginning Your DEI Journey in DSM

DEI Journey

In a new web series on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) journey, Sanjita Pradhan, director of diversity and inclusion at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, along with 2021 Partnership Inclusion Council members Becky Coady and Timothy Perkins, spoke with panelists about how to start a DEI program and ramp up DEI efforts. The webinar panelists included Greater Des Moines (DSM) employers, all at different places in their DEI journey, including:

The Meaning of DEI

The definition of diversity has expanded from just gender and race to include religion, social economic status, education, marital status, age, mental/physical ability and more. Inclusion is making sure everyone can participate. Equity is the guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement of all while identifying barriers and understanding that there are underserved populations. Perkins said that not everyone starts from the same place. Equity is about giving people the same access to opportunities. Organizations and nonprofits can ensure they are making the playing field equal by identifying biases preventing people from opportunity. He said when businesses make things better for one group, it will make things better for everyone.

Benefits of DEI

The panelists discussed the benefits of their own DEI programs, including what success looks like for their companies. Kluever said that ensuring inclusivity in the workplace by looking for gaps in hiring processes is an important step, as well as focusing on reaching diverse populations when it comes to Girl Scout troop members.

Gibson spoke about creating an inclusive culture and creating an organization where each employee can reach their full potential through building organizational capability, leaders driving results and implementing inclusive practices within the business. One way Andersen Windows has done this is by certifying more than 70 diversity COO’s in order to integrate diversity into the organization. Pradhan highlighted that it isn’t just one leader who needs to be trained in diversity practices, and that this action is a DEI best practice that companies across DSM should consider as well.

At IMT Insurance, Blythe said the organization values family. But while family is emphasized, was that culture being created at IMT? He said it was eye-opening to find out that there were employees from a marginalized populations who felt they could not be authentic in their workplace. While this initially was hard to hear, Blythe said the organization is now purposeful in creating an inclusive workplace culture into the future. In doing so, employee engagement will continue to increase and this, in turn, will make the business more effective.

Panelists also discussed challenges faced in forming DEI programs, DEI strategies and more.

Watch the entire webinar below:


Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn more here.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 23 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 400 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.