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No Holiday from Good Behavior

No Holiday from Good Behavior

It’s been a rough year for the restaurant industry, with the spotlight continually shining on numerous people behaving badly. With holiday celebrations in the offing, operators need to be aware of the risks lurking under the mistletoe. The National Restaurant Association’s launch of new sexual harassment training tools couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune moment.

Protect Yourself and Your Staff This Season with New Training from the National Restaurant Association

Teachable moments such as those described below are at the heart of the ServSafe® “Sexual Harassment Prevention for Restaurant and Hospitality Employees/Managers” tool, a compelling new tool for engaging and training staff on this vital issue.

“I was the only woman in that kitchen…I’d walk by and the guys made comments about my body…they were constantly making comments about women’s bodies and ranking them, and saying what they’d do to them if they ever had the chance. I felt like I had to watch my back all the time and I couldn’t focus on anything else.”
– A former line cook describes the hostile work environment at her previous job

“She never complained so I figured she was cool with it and I didn’t want the rat the guys or my manager out. I feel like I failed my friend.”
– A male friend, who helped her get the job but didn’t protect her once she was in the kitchen

Janet Benoit, vice president of Learning and Development, National Restaurant Association (NRA), describes the thoughtful approach taken to developing the course: “We dug deep to consider the effect of the #metoo movement and used testimonials to connect legal rights with the reality of the workplace. Many programs focus on the law but may be tone deaf as to what people actually want, and need, to hear. We’ve infused a different tone to convey the impact of sexual harassment from all perspectives.”

The employee program takes approximately 45 minutes, and articulates terms frequently used but misunderstood such as "quid pro quo" and "hostile work environment;" costs of harassment to victim, employer and the harasser; and how to report incidents, including "what if your manager is harassing you?" The extended course for managers underscores their responsibilities in dealing with liability, investigation of claims and creating a positive work environment.

“The best practice is to start with a training program such as this one, designed to equip employees and managers with vital information,” says Benoit. “To ensure a safe environment, individual owners must take it past the moment of training and embed it into their restaurant’s culture.”

Response to a summer pilot program was “tremendous, averaging over 1,000 registrations a week, and much positive feedback on content and pace,” reports Benoit. More to come this winter, as the NRA partners with the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA) on a training program to identify and manage unconscious bias in the workplace. Like sexual harassment awareness, training is not a single event but requires continual reinforcement.

“Don’t consider a training program a ‘one and done’ event, but an ongoing conversation, continually identifying what is appropriate and how it translates across cultures.”
– Gerry Fernandez, President & Founder, Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance

“That, along with serious consequences for those who act inappropriately, is how you change cultures,” says Gerry Fernandez, MFHA founder.

©2019 National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). All rights reserved. ServSafe is a registered trademark of the NRAEF, used under license by National Restaurant Solutions, LLC. The logo appearing next to ServSafe is a trademark of the National Restaurant Association.


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