Human resources departments may not fix the problems in the restaurant industry, but it’s a starting point

The restaurant industry has long had a human resources department problem—that is to say, it’s mostly nonexistent. Small and independent restaurants operating on thin margins are more likely to worry about staying in business than establishing policies and systems to manage people, reports Vice’s Bettina Makalintal. But a wave of sexual misconduct accusations against prominent chefs and restaurateurs, unpaid and underpaid labor issues, and insidious toxic bro culture—among many other problems—have highlighted the need for having a system in place to ensure employees can have their concerns heard and addressed. An executive pastry chef may be great at ensuring that daily production of viennoiserie goes seamlessly, but is probably not the right person to resolve certain labor complaints. But even large corporations with HR departments have failed to protect employees, and HR is often seen as a cog in a system that exists to protect a company’s interests first and an employee’s needs second. So while implementing HR is a starting point, meaningful change can only happen with thoughtful leadership and a working environment where there are consequences for bad behavior.

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