Building the Non-Sexual Harassment Restaurant Culture

For many seasons on the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, they kept saying “Winter is coming,” which was foreshadowing a Great War to come. Well, Winter is here for the restaurant industry! The great restaurant storm of 2018 is upon us and many will need to form alliances (already happening), some will rebrand (already happening), and all will need to understand that people are what makes the difference (not there yet).

We, as an industry, perpetuate memes and jokes around the internet that display our world as overworked, devalued, and unappreciated. It’s not so funny that we tend to get what we ask for. We become the stereotypes we share.

How do we change this sexual harassment culture that infests so much of our industry? How can we reverse the course which we seem to be heading down to becoming the next Sodom and Gomorrah?

Here are a few ideas:


Get Some Values

Restaurants become better when the people in them become better human beings and that starts with you. It starts at the foundation of all great cultures...core values. You have to know who you are and what you stand for. That old saying is quite true, “if you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything.”

Getting clear on your core values is step number one. This is something that you cannot outsource. You have to know what you stand for. Yes, you’re going to need to get in touch with those things called emotions. Don’t underestimate being authentic and being real. Your core values are a reflection of who you really are. Your restaurant is a reflection of you. See the connection?


Live Your Values

Now, that you have those pretty words written down, what do you do with them? You have to put them into action by being the example. Here’s where many go astray. Core values are easy to say and very challenging to live.

Especially words that we select because we want others to be more like that. Integrity, respect, and punctuality are among those that are easy to say are your core values, yet your actions tell another story. Just remember that when words and actions are not in congruence, your team (and guests) will always default to what you do over what you say. Actions trump bullsh*t words, every time.

Creating a non-sexual harassment culture means living up to those golden words you flaunt out for the public. You respect and appreciate your team, yet you condone “locker room” talk and gossip? That doesn’t fly. Respect is the new currency that will draw people to your restaurant. That starts with having a little respect for yourself and your behavior. Once again, it starts with you being a leader and not a coward.


The Way It Is, Doesn’t Have to Be

Now, many will claim that the restaurant industry is just this way. That’s a real loser’s mindset! The most dangerous sayings are ones accepting mediocrity and being complacent to behavior that demotes or demeans another human being. What you put up with, you end up with.

Stop accepting the way it was, as the way it has to be. Time to step up and be a leader in our industry, for our industry! Just because it’s been a common practice in the past, does not mean you can’t take a stand to stop it from being that way in the future. Sarah Connor from the cult classic movie The Terminator said it best, “There is no fate, except what we make.”


Don’t Follow The Crowd

Following the crowd is easy. The world is full of people who blindly follow the mainstream consciousness of thought and go along even when they know it’s not right. Stop it. If you know it’s not right, don’t allow it. If you see someone being harassed, say something. If you see a post that just spreads negatively around, don’t hit the share button.

We talk about being a better industry that attracts talent and not repels the younger generations. There are plenty of people who want to work in restaurants and we have foolishly sent them away by our inability to create a professional image. Reality TV chefs yell, scream, and degrade people. There are some who do act like that. There are many more who don’t! Professional people who honestly care about others are out there. We need your voice! Stand up and make some noise for the good. There is plenty of negative out there.

Creating a non-sexual harassment culture starts with you knowing who you are, living your core values, and speaking up when you see people demeaning others. Winter is here. Are you ready for the great restaurant war coming?