Nightlife’s Returning – Here’s How To Make It Safer

Group of people in a bar holding up their glasses to "cheers"

During the height of the pandemic, nightclubs and bars were widely considered risky, but such venues have long posed a different danger as hotbeds of harassment, misconduct, and abuse.

Nightlife misconduct can take many forms. For example, servers can feel pressured to accept inappropriate behavior from patrons or staff for fear of losing tips or employment. At the same time, bargoers may experience harassment from fellow patrons.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. As people begin enjoying nightlife again, there’s an opportunity to create a new culture focused on respect that allows everyone to have a good time in a safe environment.

Here are some ways owners and managers of nightlife venues can help make this happen:

1. Establish an environment of trust. Write and share a misconduct policy that makes it clear staff won’t be penalized for reporting behavior from patrons or fellow staff that makes them uncomfortable. If staff members feel safe and supported, that will strengthen their ability to create a positive environment for patrons as well.

2. Train staff to recognize misconduct and intervene. Providing bartenders and servers with intervention ideas – for example, in the form of a tip-sheet – can make it easier for them to step in if they witness a patron being harassed. Helping staff feel empowered to take even one small step, such as asking a patron if they’re uncomfortable, can go a long way toward preventing assault.

3. Ensure patrons know their options. Patrons experiencing harassment may not know where to turn – posting flyers throughout the establishment letting them know that they can seek help from a staff member can make it easier for them to find support. Posting messages about consent and respect can also help prevent harassment from happening in the first place.

The nightlife industry has made efforts in recent years to prevent harassment, abuse, and misconduct, including with the support of RALIANCE and the National Football League. Our VOICE and Coalition for Restaurant Safety & Health, for example, are two RALIANCE grantees focused on sexual harassment prevention in the service industry.

As people return to their favorite venues, now is the time to double down on these efforts and make changes that leaves everyone safer and happier during a night out.

RALIANCE provides consulting, assessment, and employee development services to help build more equitable workplace cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. We stand ready to support your organization’s goals – contact us today at [email protected] to get started.

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