The Time for Action is NOW! New Resources Provide Employers with Assistance Combatting Sexual Harassment and Violence in Hospitality Establishments


Last month, we featured a story about how sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence can occur in any job, to anyone, including those working in the hospitality sector. Media coverage continues to unearth horrific behaviour taking a place in businesses across all sectors. The time for excuses and expressions of ignorance have long passed, and the time for a strong and coordinated counter to this behaviour is the responsibility of all employers.

On the morning of November 30th, the Ontario provincial government held a press conference to announce the launch of It’s Your SHIFT, a suite of training resources Ontario hospitality businesses can use to guide employees on recognizing and safely responding to sexual violence, including harassment, in hospitality establishments across the province. Tourism HR Canada worked closely with a team from the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) and OTEC to develop the online training resources and ancillary tools announced in Toronto, and are proud to have been part of this progressive effort.

Now that resources have been made available for free, it is time for hospitality businesses to step up to the plate and fully embrace this training for themselves and their staff.

“The buck stops here. There is no excuse, no excuse for any company not to be able to now provide the training to their employees,” stated Tourism HR Canada Board Chair William Pallett at the launch event.

The tourism and hospitality sector has long suffered an undeserved reputation as one of entry level positions, where training and upskilling often do not share the level of importance of other activities like marketing and product offering. Support for initiatives like It’s Your SHIFT and other human resources activities can go a long way to attracting people to the sector—people who are looking for a safe and socially conscious environment to offer their expertise and passion.

Systemic change of this nature requires buy-in from a large segment of the sector, and by providing free of charge access to the resources needed to address this issue, the government of Ontario has removed a major barrier for providing a more informed and safer work environment for all employees. This is especially true for tourism and hospitality establishments, where the worker demographic tends to be younger and have more representation of females when compared with other industries.

With no shortage of sexual harassment cases continuing to make headline news, there is full momentum for employers in every sector to seek out and support the type of initiative the Ontario government undertook and the response to those challenges answered by ORHMA, OTEC and Tourism HR Canada. We’re looking at you rest of Canada….