Nov 1, 2021 - Politics

Des Moines City Council and top departments struggle with diversity

A chart of Des Moines City Council and top department leaders.

Des Moines' council and top department officials. Photos courtesy of the city of DSM

The lack of diversity among Des Moines' top city leadership has recently generated conversation, including among readers on development forum UrbanDSM.

Why it matters: The inclusion of underrepresented perspectives in government leads to better outcomes and policies, according to Inclusive America, a nonprofit that tracks demographics of appointed political positions.

By the numbers: Roughly 88% of the Des Moines government's full-time staff members and 89% of Polk County's are white, according to data obtained by Axios through public record requests.

  • Meanwhile, just over 79% of the county's adult population is white, according to 2020 census figures.

Between the lines: Polk County is in the process of creating a new diversity and inclusion specialist position to help improve its recruitment and retention among workers of color, Jon Cahill, a spokesperson for the supervisors, told Axios.

  • Des Moines will unveil a workforce equity plan in coming months, Manisha Paudel, the city's chief equity officer, said.

Thought bubble: Some of this is up to voters.

Of note: A photo of Paudel, who is originally from Nepal, hasn't been uploaded to the city chart.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more