DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Business Council praised the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion without criticizing Republican legislators who oppose those efforts.

The IBC, a coalition of 21 leaders of the state’s largest companies, released its yearly “Iowa Competitive Dashboard,” which it has released since 2011. The recommendations included a focus on affordable housing, lower taxes, work-based learning opportunities, additional child care and immigration reform.

The dashboard also stated that “The IBC believes a commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a fundamental element of corporate success and responsibility.”

Iowa Republican legislators this year have discussed restricting discussions about gender identity at schools, banning gender affirming surgeries and ending DEI programs at the state’s universities.

Iowa Business Council leaders did not directly criticize those Republican efforts. But they reaffirmed their commitment to the value of DEI efforts in the workplace. “The Iowa Business Council believes in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment throughout our member organizations,” IBC Executive Director Joe Murphy said, “Our association acts on this by dedicating time at each board meeting to discuss best practices and share perspectives and strategies on how businesses can continue to be welcoming and inclusive to every Iowan without our organization.”

IBC Chair Phil Jasper, president of Missions Systems for Cedar Rapids-based Collins Aerospace, added, “We share how we as a company are embracing that diversity within our employee base to really fuel that opportunity for our employees, our customers and our communities.”

Iowa continues to face a workforce shortage and has yet to recover the jobs lost since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Iowa Workforce Development website shows more than 72,000 listings for job openings, which is more than 20,000 higher than the official number of unemployed residents in the state.