March is Women’s History Month, and this year it gives us an important opportunity to think about the barriers women have broken in our industry and how we are committed to always doing better to serve our guests, our employees and our communities.

Hospitality is an industry that welcomes team members from all walks of life. We have countless stories to tell of employees and immigrants who have pursued their dreams to become successful owners of hospitality businesses. We don’t just talk about opportunity, we live and breathe it.

We also know the importance of equality. We are an industry where women fill just about half of manager positions and are increasingly stepping into leadership or ownership.

As in other industries, our work is, of course, not done. The #MeToo movement reminds us that as leaders in our businesses and mentors to our teams we need to regularly reiterate our values and our culture. And if you haven’t done so already, it is a good time to re-evaluate your best practices and the systems you have in place to support your employees should problems arise.

I could make this complicated, but let me boil it down to four things you need to have in place:

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Initial Orientation – Let new employees know about your culture and zero tolerance for harassment. Provide written anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies and have every employee sign and date a copy.

Communication and Training – Frequently communicate about your anti-harassment culture and provide training at least once a year in what that means. Also make sure your managers understand that they can be personally liable for harassment on their watch.

Multiple Ways to Report – At a recent Washington Hospitality Board meeting, we shared best practices in preventing harassment, and your peers reported that having multiple avenues for reporting issues is one of the keys to a harassment-free workplace.

Prompt and Consistent Action – Your employees need to be confident that reports will be taken seriously.  Process all reports quickly and clearly. This means responding within 12 to 48 hours and investigating every report promptly and consistently.

Washington Hospitality is dedicated to your success, and we have resources to help you check these off to ensure the safety of your employees and your business. Your membership team has resources, from articles and sample policies to training, and our Hospitality Advisory Network stands ready to answer questions on all of these fronts.

There are always challenges in running a business, but we are lucky to be in hospitality. We know how to put in the hard work and how to find and implement solutions that work for all.

(Source: Washington Hospitality Magazine, March 2018)