Hospitality Trendz

K eeping in line with the relevant and important topics in the news today, I think it’s time to talk about the really “touchy” subject within our own industry: harassment in the workplace— both sexual and hostile. Talking about this is challenging for many people, myself included, as I have been a part of the hospitality industry for as long as I can remember. In fact, my mother and father, both West Indian immigrants, came to the U.S. and opened several restaurants and businesses. I joke that I was born into a pot of food. My love and passion for the hospitality industry is unmatched, as I spend both my professional and personal time enjoying restaurants and sampling and sharing new, delicious, and innovative foods—which can be seen on my Instagram feed full of food selfies. With that being said, the hospitality industry is not perfect. There has been a long-standing history of inappropriate behavior—not only in the kitchens of free-standing restaurants, but in hotels as well. We’ve all heard stories of pots, pans, and knives flying through the kitchen, or chefs yelling at their line cooks. What we haven’t spoken about and need to address is the inappropriate, sexually predatory behavior that has been going on for years. Inappropriate behavior or sexual misconduct can be as simple as unwanted hugs or repeat kisses on the cheek. With heavy hitters like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and the hospitality industry’s very own Mario Batali being exposed as a serial sexual predators, there is a necessary change coming as this type of behavior has been brought into the spotlight and is now on the radar of many industries. Not only is inappropriate behavior in the form of sexual harassment on the radar, but I predict that the next wave of change will involve general harassment and hostile work environments. Ladies and gentlemen, the time to take a stand is now. As leaders within the hospitality industry, it is our duty to ensure that we create, promote, and foster a safe working environment that is fair, equitable, and free of harassment of all kinds, for all people. We have all said regrettable or off-color things, but we must draw a line as there comes a time when enough is enough and the industry itself can be at stake. As a human resource professional in the hospitality industry for more than 15 years, I have heard, seen, and addressed many of these types of issues. I want to leave you with some actionable tips and ideas to ensure: • You implement best practices and policies to prevent a hostile work environment and harassment. • You maintain a working environment that promotes fair, positive, and equal treatment. Let’s begin. The first thing you need to do is train a critical eye on your own organization. Ask yourself the following questions: 1. Do you promote an environment that advocates for fair, positive, and equal treatment of all employees? This truly EXPERTS SPEAK - HR The “touchy” kitchen Preventing workplace harassment in these modern times By Cleo Clarke, vice president of human resources strategy and development, Harri 72 \ H OSPITALI TY TRENDZ \ MARCH 2018 www.hospitalitytrendz.com

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