City employees’ lack of diversity does not reflect Des Moines population


DES MOINES – More than 85 percent of the city of Des Moines’ workforce is white, according to a recent public information request.

Des Moines resident Joe Henry requested the information after he noticed in his role as a member of the city’s Civil Service Commission that few minority candidates were interviewed and hired. In response to his request, the city’s data show the following:

  •     88 percent of the city’s 1,804 employees are white
  •     75 percent of city employees (1,353) are male

“This does not reflect who we are as a community,” said Henry, who is president of the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 307.


U.S. Census data report 66 percent of Des Moines’ residents as white; 11 percent black; 13 percent Latino; 4 percent more than one race; and 6 percent Asian. The city’s population is about 51 percent female.


“Had the city achieved diversity in hiring, we would have 613 people of color employed instead of only 217,” Henry said. “Instead, we are only one-third of the way to where we should be.” 

Henry said Des Moines’ elected officials should re-evaluate the city’s hiring practices to correct this inequality. Those elected in a special election on Dec. 3 for mayor and city council will play a role in the future employment practices of the city. 

“When our public servants do not match the diversity of our community, it negatively affects public services,” he says.

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