The National Restaurant Association is launching a training program to combat sexual harassment in restaurants, starting with free webinars this summer, CEO Dawn Sweeney said at the group’s annual convention in Chicago this week.
The program will be modeled after the association’s ServSafe food safety training program, which is now virtually the industry standard. Sweeney noted that 8 million people have now been certified through the ServSafe program.
“Combatting sexual attacks and harassment have filled the headlines in recent months,” Sweeney said. “Unfortunately, and not unlike in other industries, incidents have occurred in the restaurant industry.”
Sweeney announced the new program in what has become an annual update on association activities that leads into the event’s keynote speaker. The address, known as the Signature Series, came this year from former Secretary of State and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Among the other association initiatives mentioned by Sweeney were an expansion of a model apprenticeship program and the development of three new certification programs for restaurant professionals.
Sweeney said the association intends to place another 1,000 apprentices in earn-as-you-learn positions in restaurant organizations by the end of the year, building on the 250 that have been created so far. Sweeney serves on a White House task force formed by President Trump to explore the development of apprenticeships as a career path for young people who aren’t interested in pursuing a college education.
She also revealed the association is finalizing three programs that will bestow professional credentials on restaurant employees who demonstrate proficiency in key industry jobs. Career-minded individuals will be able to earn designations as Certified Restaurant Supervisor and Certified Restaurant Manager, Sweeney explained. Others making a career in the business can earn the designation of Certified Restaurant Professional.
The certification and apprenticeship programs are intended to show people working in the business that the industry affords a viable and respectable job path for those who aren’t interested in pursuing a conventional career.