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May 04, 2022

Nola Cartmill

Waukee, Iowa-based chief diversity officer, Holmes Murphy & Associates LLC

Des Moines, Iowa-based partner/attorney, Belin McCormick P.C.

As it pertains to diversity, equity and inclusion, efforts will continue to be imperative for businesses that wish to compete in the everchanging markets. Employees will simply demand it. The insurance industry has seemed to understand this imperative from the start, but its outlook depends on how it can ensure its efforts are more than box-checking in response to a tragic event and are designed to really drive sustained change from the mailroom to the boardroom.

My goal for my new position is to help Holmes Murphy become a DE&I leader not only in the insurance industry, but also in the general business industry. In addition, I hope to help not only improve the experience of those who interact with Holmes Murphy, but also those who interact with our clients and our communities.

Although the insurance industry has made great strides in its DE&I efforts, there is still much to do to ensure adequate representation not only in entry-level positions but also at executive levels. People of color comprise approximately 24% of the entry-level workforce, but only 8% of the senior and executive management. Similarly, while women comprise approximately 57% of the entry-level workforce, they only comprise 18% of the senior and executive management. And this data doesn’t even begin to address other areas of diversity that may be outwardly less visible but equally important. Closing these gaps when the governance of many companies is designed to maintain them is probably the largest challenge facing the insurance industry regarding DE&I and really highlights the need for not just diversity, but also equity and inclusion to really drive change.

My first experience in the DE&I field was helping my legal clients navigate how to improve their workplaces for all employees using affirmative action programs, voluntary affirmative action programs, and eventually standing up their own DE&I programs. Coming from this client perspective in the legal world, I had the opportunity to address these issues in a variety of environments and industries.

My advice for anyone new to the DE&I area is to be patient but persistent. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a successful DE&I effort won’t be either. However, with patience you can’t become complacent, so I couple it with persistence. If you have something that needs to be addressed or something you want to do, be the squeaky wheel until it gets addressed or done.

Chief diversity officer in any field lagging in this area


I am looking forward to the challenge of driving sustained change at Holmes Murphy, a company that I believe is committed to doing more than simply paying lip service to DE&I.

Chicken and noodles and mashed potatoes

I love to read, so this is a tough question, and I will cheat and give two answers: “Becoming” by Michelle Obama and “A Time to Kill” by John Grisham.

Reading, traveling, riding my Peloton, attending Broadway shows

“This is Us”

I enjoy taking my dog for a walk and going on a shopping outing with my sister.