Although bars are known for offering asylum to many, their reputation as a home for worship with better holy water tasting is not celebrated in the same way as a religious institution. Bars and restaurants are branded as places where bad behavior is tolerated – both behind the scenes and in public. While the #MeToo movement has helped expose some celebrity chefs and owners for the sake of their predatory personalities, the next phase of cleaning up the industry, built on creating a comfortable atmosphere, will be to actively participate in identifying and preventing sexual harassment.
And there is a lot of work to be done. A recent survey by nonprofit Stop Street Harassion found that 71% of women have been bullied in a public setting that covers restaurants and bars throughout their lives.
Speaking of which: Don't accuse him of alcohol
At the Tales of the Cocktail Conference in New Orleans last month, the workshop "What is my role? Responding to the growing need to prevent sexual abuse in nightlife and hosting spaces, it looked at how the hospitality industry can identify and prevent sexual harassment. Modernized by trauma therapist and community mobilization strategist Chauntel R. Gerdes, the panel discussed strategies and tactics that create a welcoming environment for victims of bullying.
A key element of this conversation: recognizing alcohol is not explicitly guilty of causing dangerous behavior. "This link between alcohol and violence is often linked to a cause-and-effect relationship, which is why we often link industries that work with alcohol, such as the morally gray area or ambiguity," Gerdes said.
By building a supportive community that recognizes the true root causes of human behavior, people like Gerdes, as well as colleagues like OutsmartNYC's Amy Norpe and Side Duties founder Christina Veira, have been able to deliver strategies that can help the hospitality business it gets better for humanity, "We need to move away from the idea that being hospitable means never bearing bad behavior under responsibility," Northup explains. So, what should a bartender, server, or patron do when trying to navigate potential situations where bullying may be apparent?
How Hospitality Limits Harassment: The Tricks of Commerce
One of the most popular non-confrontational strategies for stopping unscrupulous customers is cutting them off. Deprived of the customer's ability to pay, he sends a message that no amount of purchasing power is worth coping with offensive advances. Some bars even instruct guests who feel uncomfortable to order a specific drink, which suggests that the guest does not feel comfortable and needs someone to intervene.
For bartenders, presence means strategic listening to conversations and paying attention to guests' verbal and non-verbal signals. "We got really incredible feedback. People who enter the seminar think, "I don't really experience sexual harassment at my bar," and 10 minutes at "Oh … I really do," says Northup.
Some restaurants have developed entirely new systems for recognizing and dealing with harassment. At Oakland Homeroom, owner Erin Wade works with staff to create a Color Management Alert System (MACS) in which servers are instructed to use three colors to categorize incidents. The fearful mood or gaze is indicated as yellow, while the verbal sexual comments are marked as orange. Color red is used if there is physical contact, casual language, or continuous progress. Homeroom even developed its own poster for bullying policies that it sells to other companies. The House of Yes in Brooklyn employs people known to agree to monitor guest interaction and serve as a resource for anyone who may need help while on site.
Movement is not just about business, as professionals make a personal choice to better educate the people around them. Drinks director Amy Ward became a safety bar instructor so she could gain knowledge of appropriate spectator training and then make sure her staff at R Bar in Baltimore was certified safety bars. Briana Wolf, owner of Portland Hunting and Alpine Club in Portland, Maine, helped launch a nonprofit in Maine that trains bars and restaurants to help bystanders and prevent sexual abuse. The fact that side-by-side education occurs at the individual and group levels is encouraging and signals a delayed change in perspective.
Beyond the Bar: Where to Get From Here?
New York is currently discussing legislation that would require hospitality venues to take action against harassment or the risk of being fined $ 500 for an incident. Under the proposed bill, establishments will need to publish specific signage informing patrons of harassment and train employees to identify patrons who exhibit bullying. However, the idea that a policy will work for all different places is desirable thinking.
"Every day we go into work, we have a huge wild card: our guests. When we set the tone in our seats, we also tune the audience, "Weira says.
The acknowledgment by industry experts that there is no universal manual that can properly handle any situation is a reminder that one's intuition and training will ultimately determine the right course of action. "Sexual violence prevention is not about stopping the search or the culture of the bar," Gerdes says. Normalizing classic industry behavior is time-consuming, especially when phrases like "customer is always right" have shaped hospitality experiences for such a long time.
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