Building momentum and leading change: Manchester’s integrated diversity and inclusion strategy and results

Change is a constant, whether we like it or not. We may advocate for it, learn to embrace it or lead it. The town of Manchester has embraced all three to sustain a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful town for all residents, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religion, sex, or gender, and they continue to work at it.

Have you visited a town building lately? One small change you'll notice is that all town buildings have gender-neutral single-occupancy bathrooms. The town's facilities team has installed 37 "All Gender" signs in 37 single-occupancy restrooms in 16 buildings.

Manchester men and women bathroom.
Manchester all gender

Bathroom signs were just one of many outcomes centered around the town's diversity and inclusion efforts. In 2019, this effort began as a series of conversations with community members, Mayor Jay Moran, and Manchester's Board of Directors. They worked with KJR Consulting to help the town develop and implement an integrated community engagement inclusion strategy and action plan.

"Our residents want to and do engage with me and their other local government officials," said Mayor Moran. When they're talking, we must listen. What we heard from many of those engaged with us was that checking the box wouldn't be sufficient for our diversity and inclusion efforts. People wanted to see results; they wanted to see change."

With guidance and support from KJR Consulting, they moved forward with a series of interviews, meetings, and focus groups aimed at using the gathered information and insights to create an action plan that includes a Community Engagement & Inclusion Strategy from the Manchester Equity & Inclusion Collaborative, in addition to workshop training for town employees.


In 2020, all full-time town employees participated in Equity 101 workshops. As part of this work, the town also supports individuals who identify as LGBTQ+. Creating access to LGBTQ+ resources and programs. By 2021, the town's Human Resources set the following goals:

  • Ensure all customer-facing departments and employees receive training to increase LGBTQ+ cultural competency
  • Identify a designated liaison that shall serve as point-of-contact for members of Manchester's LGBTQ+ community
  • Ensures a culturally relevant customer service approach is taken in all interactions with residents and visitors who may be susceptive to discrimination or unequal treatment

Chris Silver, a lifelong Manchester resident and town employee, serves as the town's LGBTQ+ liaison. In this role, he is a resource to town staff and residents.

"The more we do to support opportunities for marginalized communities, the more these groups will want to live, work, and play permanently in Manchester," said Silver.

Often, we hear complaints that the government works slowly. It takes too long to get things done and show taxpayers results. Manchester challenged this notion and prevailed. They moved this initiative forward at a record pace to implement their diversity and inclusion efforts. They continue to stay engaged with the community residents and other stakeholders.

"We're proud of what we've accomplished. "We've built a solid foundation we can expand on," said Steve Stephanou, Town Manager. I look forward to how the town enhances our diversity and inclusion efforts over time."

Posted in ,