How Can the Restaurant Industry Move Forward After So Many Sexual Misconduct Cases Have Come to Light?

restaurant staff

As the #MeToo movement inspires more victims to come forward about their past abusive experiences, the more we realize that sexual harassment is especially prevalent in the restaurant industry. 

Now that there has finally been a light shone on the unhealthy culture that a massive number of workers in the restaurant industry have been subjected to, how can we make the necessary improvements so staff members feel more comfortable working at a restaurant? 

OpenTable's CEO Christa Quarles, whose company recently hosted its second Open Conversations dinner, points out at there is still so much work to be done. 

“The first order for these dinners was really to create space and forum for conversation. And from there, I think everybody wants to know that this isn’t just about having the cathartic conversation. While that’s super important and frankly very much needed, it’s also to create space for what’s next,” said Quarles

So what's next? How do we move forward to prevent sexual harassment in the future?

James Beard Award-winning Chef Ashley Christensen recommends investing in human resources to create a "safe zone" for team members. 

 “I know intimately how tight the margins are in our business, but it is so crucial to find room in the budget for this resource,” she wrote. “I think it’s almost impossible as a business owner to review situations between employees in a truly neutral manner, and having a skilled HR director allows us to provide that resource and safe zone to our team.”

But restaurant employees and owners aren't the only ones committing sexual misconduct, customers also need to be properly educated on a restaurant's policy.

“We need to make sure that restaurant workers feel protected and empowered to speak up, and we need customers to know what the restaurant’s policies are,” said Clare Reichenbach, the CEO of the James Beard Foundation.

Read more about how the industry is addressing and developing solutions to handle the sexual harassment problem at restaurants at "Fast Company."