The Diversity Workforce Coalition has made a statement regarding a pending New Hampshire State Legislature Bill, HB 544. The language from HB 544, no matter how framed, could restrict the free exchange of ideas critical to understanding, growth, change and acceptance in the workplace and beyond.
Now more than ever, we need leaders in business and government to stand for civility over conflict and dialogue over division. While the DWC has not taken a position on such matters, we do encourage open, unrestricted, candid but respectful and civil discussions in the workplace and in the community.
Dear Honorable Senators:
The Diversity Workforce Coalition is a not-for-profit organization comprised of over 65 organizations representing private and public organizations of all types and sizes. Our purpose is to promote diversity in the workplace through education, training, enhanced networking opportunities and to identify and connect resources to our members and the public.
New Hampshire businesses have been challenged on many levels throughout the pandemic, but the resiliency, loyalty and creativity of our employees have been the critical factors in our ability to survive. We believe that if enacted HB 544, An Act Relative to the propagation of divisive concepts, will have a negative impact on our workplaces and on the business climate in New Hampshire. We encourage, open and respectful discussions in the workplace and in the community.
We are a small state that is in constant competition with neighboring states to attract and retain the best talent. The success of New Hampshire businesses depends on the ability to attract diverse generational, gender and racial employee groups at all levels within our organizations and to do so must constantly work to create an environment that makes all our employees feel empowered in their role.
The language from HB 544, no matter how framed, could restrict the free exchange of ideas critical to understanding, growth, change and acceptance in the workplace and beyond. HB 544 would not only harm the ability of New Hampshire businesses to be competitive, it would severely harm the state's image as business-friendly, since it stifles the ability of organizations who do business with the state to foster diverse workforces as they see fit.
HB 544 leaves employers vulnerable to being sued for employment discrimination. If an employer cannot train or counsel its managers and supervisors on recognizing patterns of unconscious bias and stereotyping, it leaves the employer vulnerable to being sued for employment discrimination and for not taking any action to avoid such discrimination. To be inclusive in a manner that fulfills the public policies underlying our discrimination laws and strengthens the fabric of our society, we must have these conversations so we can understand other people’s experiences beyond our own, and learn from them. Employers, should not be constrained by the State in being able to design such trainings, especially when such trainings reflect their own corporate values and culture.
More than ever, we need leaders in business and government to stand for civility over conflict and dialogue over division. The Diversity Workforce Coalition strongly urges you, our elected representatives, to protect the state, its people, and its businesses from this dangerous and damaging legislation by eliminating HV 544’s language from HB2.
Tina M Sharby
Board Chair, Diversity Workforce Coalition