Updated: Jun 9
This past week has been enlightening for many people, including myself. While the Black Lives Matter movement has slowly built momentum in the past few years, all seemed to be full speed ahead as protests were demonstrated around the US in support of the unjust murder of George Floyd. This movement has us thinking about and speaking on the mistreatment of the black community and the opportunities they’ve long deserved, but still are fighting to receive. While the hospitality industry has always been a diverse workplace, it’s clear that we can ALL be doing better.
I’ve taken time this past week to learn how restaurants and other hospitality companies are taking a stance on racial equality. Many companies have spoken out against systemic racism, even going as far as specifying the change we can expect to see. Some have just danced around the issue to keep ‘everyone happy’. No matter where you are in the conversation, know this: no amount of posts will help if active change isn’t promised and executed.
So as event planners and hospitality professionals, where can we start? You’d be surprised at how easily you can support employees and customers who have been affected by racial inequality. Today, I’m sharing 5 ways you can support the Black community within your restaurant.
Address Racial Differences: One of the most important takeaways from the information posted in the last week is to address that there is diversity in the workplace. Employees come from different ethnic backgrounds and there is nothing wrong with saying it out loud and celebrating it as well! If you have Black employees or other races represented in your team, have a conversation with them. Learn from them on how you as a team can be better, what language is acceptable and how continued support can be integrated into your daily routines.
Team Training: It’s not enough to drop your large, wordy handbook on the rules of racial equality to your new hires. Are they reading it? Are they asking questions? Are you even comfortable speaking on it? If the answer is no, there is room to grow. We have to get comfortable talking about the uncomfortable. Stepping outside the printed version of equality and talking about it will make it clear to your team on where you stand as a company and your expectations for their behavior. Aside from new-hire training, be sure that racial equality is discussed ALL the time. In pre-shifts, during family meal, etc. The high turnover over rate in restaurant employment is reason enough to continue the message and make sure that everyone is receiving it.
Supporting Black-Owned Business: Many people have made the decision to support the Black Lives Matter movement by buying from Black-owned and operated businesses. Take a look at the vendors you work with. Is it time to diversify? Are there any Black-owned businesses that have been asking for time to pitch? Now is the time to support the community of black business owners who haven’t been given the same opportunities.
Diversify Donations: If you’ve worked in a restaurant or bar, you know these businesses are among the most generous when it comes to non-profit and community sponsorship. Take a look at what communities, clubs and organizations you’re donating to. Are they diverse in culture and race? If not, think about how you can provide equal support to all asking for help.
Welcoming New Traditions: There’s no doubt in how much the hospitality industry loves to celebrate. Many have traditions, events or offer specials for St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco De Mayo, etc. How could you incorporate such holidays as Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month, Kwanzaa? It’s also important to mention that celebrating does not need to be shared just with customers, but celebrated internally as well. Company parties or even comida meals are just a few instances where diversity can be celebrated.
The more we incorporate the Black community into our business and traditions, the more comfortable we can be in learning, asking questions and finding more about our race - the human race.
Have you discussed the above suggestions with your team? Which ones have worked for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts and if you think something is missing from above. As we continue to learn with you all, we will share our thoughts and findings on the subject.
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