How Restaurants Can Prevent Sexual Harassment

Did you know that statistics show the restaurant industry has the highest number of sexual harassment claims? Sexual harassment in the workplace is currently a hot topic and many industries are trying to clamp down on those rampant perverts who think it is ok to try and hit on their co-workers.
There is something about the restaurant and hospitality industry that seems to attract this type of behaviour more so than any other job. Whatever the reason, restaurant owners and managers must do what they can to stamp out sexual harassment for good. To help, we have provided 5 handy tips that will certainly reduce the chance of an incident occurring!

1. Have a thorough and stringent hiring process

First and foremost, if your restaurant is attracting the wrong type of employee then you are starting off on the wrong foot. Ensure that you have a thorough vetting process and that all your potential employees backgrounds are checked – where have they worked before? Why did they leave their last place of work? Don’t use the mantra of hire first and ask questions later! You don’t want to be asking the question of “Why did you think it was appropriate to try and….” 3 months down the line when you have hired that person ill-advisedly!

2. Consider alternating shift patterns

Sexual harassment can sometimes be a recurring event when two staff members repeatedly share the same shift pattern. To help keep things fresh, and to move any potential problems around, consider alternating shift patterns. If shift patterns change then there is a smaller likelihood of a recurring issue happening between certain staff members. Furthermore, your staff may actually appreciate the change and enjoy working with different people – it will break up their routine.

3. Ensure managers are trained to deal with sexual harassment issues

In a restaurant environment the owners and managers must set a good example. They must also know how to deal with a sexual harassment case. If your restaurant manager(s) work against sexual harassment and have the right attitude, this will make the whole process that much easier. Consider looking at safeguarding courses – this type of training course teaches people about appropriate behaviour in a whole host of different environments such as restaurants and schools. Arming your managers with knowledge can avoid many sticky situations and help them police their staff.

4. Ensure clear rules and guidelines are made, and that they are enforced

Rules and guidelines are the cornerstone of an effective and disciplined workforce – a restaurant environment should be no different. If you set out a clear structure of rules and expectations (and that your managers follow through with the rules) then your staff will cooperate. The main rule should obviously be that sexual harassment is absolutely forbidden! Furthermore you should look at rules of cell phone usage (its certainly not ok for staff to make boss videos of their harassment!), and anything else you feel will contribute to the workplace.

5. Attempt to instil a culture of respect within your workforce

The main aim of this is to breed a culture within your staff that sexual harassment is wrong. They have to believe it and understand why. Its not enough for just the boss to believe it – if only the top level management or owners have this belief, but their staff don’t you will ultimately fail. The above pointers should all combine together to create a restaurant environment that is wholesome and that looks negatively on sexual harassment. No videos, no harassment, no sexism or racism – just positive attitudes and working as a team. If you get the culture right then it will flow through every aspect of your restaurant business. As you can see, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your beloved restaurant doesn’t become a cesspool of sexual corruption. Training, education, vetting and sticking to the rulebook will all help greatly in your quest to ensure that non of your staff fall prey to sexual harassment. We hope you have found this article insightful – good luck!