Workplace sexual harassment is an unfortunate issue that plagues many industries. However, research shows it is particularly common in the hospitality sector. There are several factors that contribute to the high prevalence of sexual harassment in bars and restaurants. When it occurs, it can have a significant impact on an employee’s job performance, morale and mental health.
To combat this problem, industry employers must prioritize education, prevention and the creation of safe reporting mechanisms.
The industry’s predominantly male-dominated workforce contributes to its high rate of sexual harassment. The majority of employees, such as chefs, managers and bartenders, are men. This can create an imbalance of power and contribute to harassment incidents.
The hierarchical structure of many hospitality establishments can also be a contributing factor. The top-down nature of management often results in power differentials, with managers and supervisors holding considerable authority over other employees. This power dynamic can make it easier for harassment to occur, as those in positions of authority may exploit their status.
Hospitality is a customer-focused industry, where employees often prioritize customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, some customers may take advantage of this focus on service, making inappropriate comments or advances toward employees. Hospitality workers may feel as if they must tolerate such behavior for the sake of customer satisfaction, leading to a toxic environment.
Long hours and late shifts
The hospitality industry is notorious for its long hours and late-night shifts. This often results in employees working in close proximity to one another during late hours. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of inappropriate behavior occurring when there is less oversight.
While sexual harassment in hospitality affects both men and women, women face it far more frequently, with NPR noting that 70% of women in hospitality have faced sexual harassment. By addressing the factors that contribute to this behavior, the hospitality industry can work towards creating a safer and more inclusive work environment for all.