Skip navigation
thinkstock Thinkstock

How to stop harassment? Make respect a core value

No training or employee handbook will replace a good work culture

Joni Thomas Doolin is founder of research firm TDn2K’s People Report, a data analysis of the restaurant industry workforce. This is part of Restaurant Hospitality’s ongoing series on sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. This portion of the series shares voices from within the industry. 

Recent stories of sexual harassment in restaurants and hotels hurt.  

Hardly an elephant in the room, the reports of unwanted advances, touching and verbal abuse are unfortunately too easy to acknowledge with “Yeah, that probably happened.” 

We should expect more stories to be told in the days and months ahead as #MeToo progresses from a social-media hashtag, to real people sharing real feedback about workplaces that need attention and reform. 

Expect the training courses to be dusted off, and the acknowledgement signature pages to be redistributed. None of that is a bad thing.  

In an industry where turnover rates are frequently over 100 percent, making sure that current and new employees understand upfront where the lines are drawn that cannot be crossed is just smart.  

Unfortunately, the problem occurs the first time there isn’t a consequence for crossing those lines. Or worse, the first time a supervisor or company executive crosses that line.  

Sexual harassment is blatant disregard and disrespect for the safety and well-being of the individual — of any individual who works for us.  

In the end, no employee handbook or training course can ever replace a culture where that respect and concern for every employee does not exist as a core value, practiced as a matter of course from the corner office to the dish room. 

Today there are plenty of places where those cultures do exist, or are being built and nurtured by leaders who care. We see that every year when we honor the winners of our workplace Best Practices awards.  

Of course, there are no perfect people, or perfect brands or perfect cultures. But after years of studying the restaurant workforce, we know there are always companies that do more, care more and have connected their workplace to their ability to succeed in the marketplace.  Diversity matters. Having more women in places of leadership matters.  

Investing in the development of our managers matters. That development includes plenty of time devoted to building healthy and supportive relationships with employees; the exact opposite of relationships that are based on fear, abuse and lack of trust.

The headlines hurt, because we know there is truth being told, and work to be done.  

I also see this as an opportunity being presented to leaders to stand up for what is right for all of their employees. 

Dr. Raj Sisodia, author of the workplace classics “Everyone Matters” and “Firms of Endearment,” calls us to build organizations and cultures that “heal.” This is the perfect chance for the industry to make our workplaces the centerpiece of innovation and reinvention.  


Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.