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LGBT+ in DSM USA: Fostering Community and Finding Home


August 28, 2019

When I first moved to Greater Des Moines (DSM) in 2015 for an internship with Principal, I had no clue what I was signing up for. A financial services company in the heart of Iowa was certainly not my dream, nor was it an industry or city where I anticipated I’d start and build a career. Four years later, I can proudly say that Des Moines, Iowa has provided more of a home than I could have ever anticipated; however, if you would’ve asked me about my tenure in DSM just last year, I can assure you this answer would’ve been drastically different.

Last year, I was going through the motions with work and life, establishing a rather repetitive and — to be wholly honest — not super fulfilling lifestyle. I had (and still have) great and supportive friends, an amazingly familial team at work and an enriching career. So what did I think was missing? A whole side to my home that I had completely overlooked: a connection with our LGBT+ community. Realizing this, I took a baby step and connected with Principal’s LGBT+ employee resource group (ERG for short) and I’m grateful to share that being involved in the work that this corporate affinity group does has helped me find more meaning in my DSM home.

[Find more information on diversity and inclusion in DSM.]

About Principal's LGBT+ Employee Resource Group

Principal’s LGBT+ employee resource group is overseen by our Diversity & Inclusion office, which is committed to creating a safe, welcoming and empowering community for all employees at Principal. They instilled in me a new sense of purpose when I was struggling to find any in my work. They showed me that “work” is more than just pushing widgets and delivering on projects, it’s building relationships and engaging with others in a meaningful way. Being involved in Principal’s LGBT+ ERG allowed me to execute on this purpose by helping to plan and market our LGBT+ community events.

As one of the group’s communications coordinators this year, I specifically got to work directly with our group’s leadership and steering committee members to organize programming and produce internal communications for our membership. Our first membership meeting of the year, a presentation on non-binary genders from a cultural and business perspective by our group’s advisor and an external community leader, garnered a lot of attention by employees and leaders. This high-profile discussion emphasized the business importance of continuing to address the needs of non-binary individuals — including the topic of new legislation that allows for individuals to have their true identity formally indicated on legal documents (as opposed to the binary-traditional “Male”/ “Female”).

[Read on to find out about how hiring a diverse workforce can lead to a competitive advantage.]

Our LGBT+ ERG’s year didn’t slow down too much after that, and mine didn’t either. While the LGBT+ ERG paired up with other affinity groups in Principal’s aptly named “Connected Community” to host an external speaker and participate in Capital City Pride’s festivities, I was pursuing more of the LGBT+ community in DSM. I connected with the First Friday Breakfast Club’s scholarship committee and helped present scholarships to some of the most impressive graduating seniors I have ever met. I joined kickball and volleyball through Pride Sports League and sang tenor with the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus. I helped execute the largest Pride Fest Des Moines has ever hosted with a passionate and supportive team as Secretary of Capital City Pride. And along the way, I found my home.

While it’s perhaps a bit naïve for me to promise that DSM is my final stop, I can say that I’m beyond grateful to be here for the experience that I’m having now. To all of the individuals who gave me the chance to find my purpose (Principal, First Friday Breakfast Club, Pride Sports League, Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus, and Capital City Pride), I just wanted to say thank you. Without these platforms to engage with the DSM LGBT+ community, I know that I could not and would not still be here.

For anyone who has ever questioned their place and purpose, I’d implore you to take a chance, be vulnerable and invest your time in something meaningful to you. There’s a lot of power when we come together to create and foster community. However, without people showing up and taking initiative, these spaces of unity and strength could not exist.

Are you interested in moving to Greater Des Moines (DSM)? Relocation Packets offer information on everything from neighborhoods and shopping to parks and local attractions. Or, kick start your career by checking out the DSM USA Career Center. It has over 10,000 jobs listed!

Tanner Mote

Tanner Mote (he/him/his) is an IT Business Analyst and LGBT+ employee resource group steering committee member at Principal Financial Group. He currently lives in the Historic East Village in Des Moines.