Earlier this year, a pie chart put up by a bar in Devon gained international attention. Why would a pie chart gain so much attention, and how is it relevant? Well, here it is:
This image, while gaining some chuckles, also gives customers something to think about. It was put up after a member of staff was harassed by a customer. In the movie Coyote Ugly, the bar owner gives one of her employees a raise after she defends herself from a harassing customer. These are only a couple of examples of employers standing up for employees when they’re harassed by customers
The restaurant industry alone is responsible for 37% of harassment complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), despite only employing 7% of women. Nearly 80% of women have been harassed by customers, with a third dealing with it weekly. So what can we do? Well, speak up, for starters. Female service employees, especially those in tipped positions, often feel that they can’t speak up, or they’ll lose their jobs and income. So we need a safe way to speak up.
Bryce Covert cites studies in his article, here, showing that there is a lower incidence of employees being sexually harassed by customers in those states where tipped employees are paid the same minimum wage as non-tipped employees instead of a reduced minimum wage, showing that increasing wages helps employees feel empowered to speak up when harassed by customers.
Patti Guiffre discusses in her blog post how there is often little legal recourse for service employee, including doctors and nurses, who are being harassed by customers and patients. So we need changes in laws and workplace policies giving employees a way to defend themselves from boorish customers without losing their jobs or taking a pay cut.
We also need to start holding people accountable for their actions. Right now, we’re hearing stories about powerful men who harassed female colleagues and for years or decades, they got away with it. We need to say no more.
For years, HR professionals were trained to protect the company from sexual harassment complaints, even if it meant sweeping them under the rug. We need HR to make and enforce anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies, and we need organizational leaders to embody a commitment to fight harassment, including holding, attending, and speaking a anti-harassment training courses.
More tips can be found here.
Gretchen Carlson talks about her experiences and offers her advice in a TED talk found here.