How do you change your biases if you’re not aware of them?
The simple answer is to become aware of them.
The more complex answer is to recognize that you, and everyone else, has unconscious biases and to commit to discovering them. Once you are aware of them, they are no longer unconscious and you are able to tackle them and ensure you don’t act upon them in the workplace in ways that are bad for you, your employees, your establishment, and your customers.
You’re probably aware of some biases—not hiring a woman because you think the best chefs are men or not assigning a person of color to be a hostess because you think customers won’t be comfortable with her greeting them.
But would you find yourself in the following situations?
Miranda Is the most experienced, hardworking server at your establishment and has been there for many years, but lately her supervisor has been assigning her to less desirable shifts and sections of the restaurant that aren’t as busy. When talking to her one day, she lets slip that she thinks Miranda is not as attractive as the younger servers.
You watch as Jonas greets a table with a Hispanic couple you know are there celebrating their anniversary. When he returns to the kitchen, you ask why he didn’t offer them a wine list. He looks slightly embarrassed when he answers, “Oh, I didn’t want to pressure them—you know those folks never order the fine wines anyway.”
You’re putting together a team of employees to participate in an annual community service event. Several of your employees have applied because it is a fun event that is paid and provides community recognition. Gilbert has asked to join for the first time this year and you’d like to reward him because he’s been putting in a lot of extra hours when you needed him. But you’ve already told Therese she can be on the team. You know she attends a conservative church and you’re not sure how well she’ll cooperate with Gilbert, who is a transgender man.
You and the kitchen manager are reviewing applicants for a sous chef after a day of interviews. He glances at one résumé and tosses it aside saying, “She’ll insist on wearing that head scarf thingy rather than the standard uniform. It’s not worth the hassle.”
You visit the table of a guest at the end of her meal to ask her how her experience was. She gives you a dirty look and says, “The standards here have really gone downhill. Can’t you find any waiters who aren’t covered in tattoos?”
Some of these can be tricky situations and all of them can be uncomfortable. Being able to recognize bias—and knowing what to do about it—has become an ever-more important skills for foodservice managers.
The National Restaurant Association has teamed up with the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance to create training to help support you in handling these difficult situations and helping your employees become more aware of how bias affects their work performance. Uncovering Unconscious Bias, an online training suite that is part of ServSafe Workplace, is designed to help you grow in your awareness and deepen the cultural intelligence of your entire team. To learn more, visit http://info.servsafe.com/unconscious-bias.