Quick Thought: Harassment...in YOUR Industry?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Rampant Harassment

Yesterday as I was driving between networking meetings, client meetings, and Girl Scout meetings, I heard a report on the radio discussing how rampant sexual harassment is in the restaurant industry. (It’s apparently “rampant” only now that Ken Friedman, of New York’s Spotted Pig restaurant, has been accused of harassment? ) Granted, restaurants are unique in that servers earn tips…and unfortunately, the more skin a female server shows, the higher her tips. Servers are often working with the public when customers are “letting their hair down” as well; they’re at the bar after a long day at work and forget that rules of propriety, while maybe not as stringent as in their office, should still apply to the “hottie” bringing them beers.  Should a woman really have to show more skin to earn more money? The report went on to explain how California’s minimum wage laws for servers have drastically reduced the number of harassment claims within the industry here in California because servers don’t need to dress as provocatively in order to earn the same amount of money; however, the problem clearly has not been eliminated entirely. 

After listening to the full report, my first thought was the one that really remained with me: Harassment isn’t about ANY ONE industry. As a Human Resources professional, I’ve investigated claims of harassment in six different industries that I can think of off the top of my head.  Harassment truly crosses all lines: industry, gender, race, socio-economic, office setting, party setting, home setting…it doesn’t matter. Harassment is prevalent EVERYWHERE, and we’ve proven it over the past few months by digging into those who’ve harassed others in politics, Hollywood, and, yes, restaurants too. 

It comes down to this: if you’re acting like a decent human being and treating others in the same manner, you’re likely not harassing anyone, no matter where you work or play.  Should you need reminders of how to act appropriately with other people in your industry or in another industry, here are the rules of thumb:

1. Would you be upset if someone said that to your mom/sister/wife/daughter? 

and

2. Would you want your spouse/significant other to see you touching someone else this way? 

It’s not hard. We can all do better, in any industry and in any setting.

And yes. #MeToo. 

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