Hospitality workers and venues pledge to stamp out sexual harassment

Timna Jacks, The Age


Long hours. Barking orders. Burning food.

Jess Browning quickly learnt how to cope with these pressures when she signed up for a job as a chef 12 years ago.

What she did not expect in her first year apprenticeship was to be asked by her male boss why one of her breasts was larger than the other.

"I tried to laugh it off," Ms Browning says. "I was a bit taken aback."

For years, she says  she endured insidious sexism across many different kitchens.

Female waitresses were harassed by rowdy drunk customers. Kitchen staff teased women for their appearances.

The culture was accepted in an industry that has long been dominated by men. But times are changing. A few years ago, she decided to bite back.

"I figured out that I didn't have to put up with it and I wasn't going to lose my job or look like a wuss if I stood up for myself," Ms Browning said.

"Initially, there were some raised eyebrows but the longer you work somewhere the more people get to know you," says the chef,  who now works at Carlton North's Green Park, an environment she says is inclusive. 

"Now, I point out if comments are inappropriate and I'm not willing to tolerate that sort of behaviour or conversation."

Ms Browning is among dozens of activists who are now launching a campaign to stamp out sexual harassment in hospitality.

With the backing of the hospitality union, United Voice, they have created a 'Respect is the Rule' pledge, which has been signed by 23 businesses before its official launch.

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Volunteer on the campaign


Sexual harassment is a huge problem in our industry. But by coming together we can change the culture this industry and make sure we feel safe and respected when we go to work. Join dozens of other hospo workers in leading this campaign to make #RespectIsTheRule in every venue: