Puritan hosts diversity conference

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photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Thursday, business leaders and other dignitaries from across New Hampshire gathered at the Puritan Conference Center to the fourth annual Diversity Workplace Coalition Diversity Conference.

Sponsored by over four dozen businesses and organizations across the Granite State, the four-hour conference provided a series of talks on building inclusivity in the workplace as well as honors for Eastern Bank for their work going above and beyond to create an inclusive workplace.

For Tina Sharby, Chairman of the Diversity Workplace Coalition and Chief Human Resources Officer of New Hampshire Easter Seals, much has been done in New Hampshire to address diversity and inclusivity in the workplace but efforts still need to be taken toward accommodating people in the LGBTQ community, the socio-economically disadvantaged and housing disadvantaged community, veterans, the elderly and others.

For Sharby, the best analogy when it comes to creating a positive workplace is seeing employees like lightbulbs.

“We all come in different shapes and sizes and have difference uses, but we all draw upon the same energy and have the same value no matter where we were manufactured,” she said.

While 100 people registered for the conference, only 60 attended due to limitations relating to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

One of the 60 attendees was Michelle Barnhart, senior HR and EHS analyst for Timken in Keene.

Barnhart felt that the conference exceeded her expectations, and feels that New Hampshire has made significant strides toward greater workplace diversity and inclusivity during her eight years as a Granite Stater. But like Sharby, she also feels that more work needs to be done. For Barnhart, the work specifically needs to come in the area of integration.

“We have such a beautiful state, it’s easy for us to attract talent, but in places like the Monadnock region, there isn’t as much to do compared to places like Manchester and the diverse population we create doesn’t seem to stay,” she said. “Our struggle is that once we have these diverse groups, they’re struggling to connect and put down roots.”

More information can be found at diversityworkplace.org

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About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.