4 ways training can help restaurants prevent sexual harassment

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Preventing sexual harassment and creating a safe, respectful workplace culture has been a challenge for the restaurant business, long before #MeToo and headline-making allegations against celebrity chefs and restaurateurs. The ongoing spotlight on workplace harassment, along with new anti-harassment laws, has put sexual harassment training on the front burner.

Here are four ways that sexual harassment training can help your restaurant business prevent harassment, encourage positive behavior and actively promote a safe, respectful culture.

1. Raises awareness
Training is one of the most effective ways to raise awareness of the different forms of sexual harassment and the importance of creating and maintaining respect, civility and inclusion in the workplace. Regular, interactive training that is tailored to an organization and its workforce is one of the core principles for preventing and addressing harassment, according to a report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.

With modern, digital learning techniques and technologies, such as presenting topics in bite-sized episodes, with restaurant-specific realistic video scenarios and interactive exercises, training can motivate employees to be more aware of their behavior, its potentially harmful impact and the consequences for misconduct.

2. Empowers bystanders
Bystander intervention training can empower employees to be active bystanders in preventing harassment. With the right knowledge and tools, individuals can learn how to disrupt misconduct and help prevent future incidents. When individuals become engaged bystanders, they show their support and empathy for the targets of harassment, which contributes to a stronger culture. Experts and the EEOC agree that bystander intervention training works, and with leadership’s support, could be a game changer in the workplace.

3. Communicates policies and reporting procedures 
Training offers restaurant owners and operators the opportunity to regularly and clearly communicate their anti-harassment policy and options for reporting sexual harassment. Training should also reinforce the message that employees who report harassment are protected from retaliation. Training is also a convenient way for restaurants to update employees and managers on new employment laws and regulations and explain how they may apply at work.

4. Promotes a safe, respectful workplace culture
When left unchecked, sexual harassment can perpetuate a toxic culture that damages morale, productivity and the ability to attract and retain skilled workers—an industry-wide problem for restaurants. As part of a holistic approach to preventing sexual harassment, training employees at all levels can help drive cultural change. By providing dynamic content and tools that are relevant, memorable and practical, training encourages positive behavior and enables employees to do the right thing and take the right steps whenever they see or experience any form of harassment. 

Since #MeToo, legislators around the country are enacting stronger anti-harassment laws that require employers to provide sexual harassment training to employees. New York State, New York City, California, Connecticut, Delaware and Maine are among the states and cities with training requirements. Last year, the District of Columbia passed a bill which requires restaurateurs to provide anti-harassment training to all employees, and in February 2019, Illinois Representative Ann M. Williams proposed the Restaurant Anti-Harassment Act. If enacted, restaurants in Illinois must provide sexual harassment training to all employees. A similar bill was introduced in New Jersey in January.

Jeffrey Frankel is the Vice President of Marketing for Traliant an industry leader in transforming sexual harassment training from boring to brilliant. Traliant creates award-winning online, interactive training experiences designed to motivate employees to act ethically, speak up against harassment and discrimination, and create safe and respectful workplaces.

This post is sponsored by Traliant