Sheffield to see ‘transformed’ hospitality sector as campaign against sexual harassment launched

The hospitality sector in Sheffield is set to be transformed for the better when it fully reopens on May 17 as a city-wide campaign against sexual harassment in the workplaces kicks off.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 1:55 pm

The campaign, called 'Know The Line - Zero Tolerance for Sexual Harassment', is being launched especially in the wake of brutal killing of Sarah Everard that sent shockwaves throughout the nation earlier this year.

Spearheaded by Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield in collaboration with The Star, Know The Line and other partners, venues across the city can now play their part in putting a stop to sexual harassment in the workplaces - be it a cafe, a restaurant, a pub, or a hotel.

Although sexual harassment is illegal and all workers, regardless of length of service are protected from sexual harassment in the workplace by the Equality Act 2010, these incidents remain rife.

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People raising their glasses as pubs with outdoor facilities reopened on April 30, 2021. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

The Equality Act 2010 defines harassment as ‘unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.’

And such a campaign is needed more than ever, as it could help protect the younger women who are easily exploited for cheaper labour and at the same time give them courage to speak up.

Paul Blomfield said: "As we emerge from lockdown our fantastic cafes, bars, pubs, restaurants, clubs and hotels can build back better by pledging zero tolerance of sexual harassment.

"Many have already acted and we have great schemes like ‘Ask for Angela’, but this is an opportunity for the whole sector to come together with one voice.

“Everyone should feel comfortable and safe as customers or staff. I’ve heard distressing stories from too many girls and women about comments or actions that make them feel humiliated or threatened.

"We have to call out this behaviour and give confidence that complaints will be taken seriously.

“The hospitality sector had a really hard year. We’re all looking forward to its full re-opening and signing up to this pledge will make it better for everyone.”

Editor of The Star, Nancy Fielder agreed: "This is a great opportunity to show that Sheffield's hospitality sector is not just wanting to reopen as normal, but to come back better than before. It is a unique scheme which offers protection which shouldn't have to be necessary but sadly is right across the country.

"We want to lead the way in taking quick action to stamp out harassment but also working together as a city, led by this industry, to properly challenge and change attitudes to stamp out the abuse of women which has been accepted for generations but is not impossible to stamp out for the future.

"It is exciting to see the number of venues who have already been in touch and we look forward to hearing from many more. This is the opportunity to show every Sheffield woman that our city cares and we won't tolerate it any longer."

Know The Line said they are now pleased to be working with partners to broaden the scope of their campaign and include sexual harassment at work, as they have campaigned against sexual harassment in public places for over three years.

Know The Line’s Chair Christine Rose said: "We recognise that Covid has had a huge impact on the hospitality trade with so many pubs, bars and restaurants being forced to shut down.

"As things start to get back to normal we all want to go out and socialise with family and friends, enjoying a meal and a drink together.

"We also want to improve the working life of everyone who works in these venues. We want to change the conversation about sexual harassment at work, to make it clear that it’s not acceptable, whether it comes from your boss, your colleagues, a client or a customer.

"Women must be able to go to work without the fear that they will lose hours or miss out on a promotion if they complain about sexual harassment."

“We encourage all those working in the hospitality trade to sign up to the campaign for zero tolerance and to help us make a great night out better for everyone involved.”

Know The Line has been campaigning to tackle sexual harassment at its roots, signposting women and girls to local support, challenging perpetrators – mainly men and boys and empowering bystanders to intervene safely.

The death of Sarah Everard had triggered a public outcry about the safety of women and how offences against them are dealt with.

The marketing executive went missing while walking home from a friend's house on March 3 and her body was later found in woodland in Kent.

She is believed to have walked through Clapham Common on her way home to Brixton, a journey that should have taken around 50 minutes.

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, was charged with kidnap and murder.

Her tragic death had triggered a nationwide protest and led to a wave of accounts from women about dangers of walking alone at night and their frustration at the police and wider society in tackling this issue.

Home Office statistics also have shown that women are disproportionately impacted by sex crimes and are more likely to be victims of stalking, harassment and domestic abuse than men.

To sign the pledge and be part of the campaign, please go here.