Harassment and discrimination are nothing new in the workplace—but #coffeetoo is looking to eradicate it, and is calling on members of the coffee community to step up as well.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
As issues of discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault in the workplace demand more attention—from allegations against restaurateurs like Mario Batali and Charlie Hallowell to coffee figures like Jeremy Tooker, who allegedly relinquished his stake in his company, Four Barrel, after eight women came forward alleging being victim to sexual harassment—questions remain about how to respond. As an employer or a manager within a company, or even just as a member of the coffee community, what steps should you take to eradicate sexual harassment and ensure that employees can be given a safe environment to work in?
Some companies have stepped up, pledging their commitment to ending harassment, even weaving it through the fabric of their business model like Barry Fraught of Broadcast Coffee did in Seattle. And the folks at #coffeetoo, the grassroots organization started by Molly Flynn (who also works at Broadcast Coffee), want to provide a blueprint for other companies and coffee folks to follow suit. “#Coffeetoo has created a pledge for any person, organization, or business to say that they will not engage in toxic or dangerous behaviors, and will instead adopt an action plan for being an active ally for those who are in toxic situations,” a press release states.
#Coffeetoo’s pledge comes in response to the conversation in the coffee community—as more and more people speak out about discrimination and harassment in the workplace at events like The Coffeewoman, the need for more employers, business owners, and allies in general to take an active role in ending harassment becomes clearer. “Members of the U.S. coffee community are demanding that discrimination and harassment in the industry come to an end,” the press release states. “After decades of unfair and unsafe work and societal environments, we are shouting, ‘No More.’ Significant steps must be taken on the business and individual levels to initiate change.”
You can take the pledge during this year’s Specialty Coffee Expo, which will bring thousands of coffee professionals together in Seattle. At the event, organizers and volunteers will be on hand to hand out #coffeetoo stickers, talk about the group’s goals, and help folks take the pledge. “As 10,000 people from around the globe prepare to come together for the world’s largest specialty coffee convention, this is a critical time for all of us to take the pledge and create a safe and positive environment for everyone,” the press release states. Along with stickers and the pins that were offered during #coffeetoo’s GoFundMe campaign (which is still live and which you can still donate to), the group will also release an enamel pin, designed by Breezy Sanchez, whose design work has been used by groups like the Bay Area Coffee Community (BACC), Cherry Roast, and the Denver-based coffee zine Coffee People. “The pin simply says, ‘NO,’ and is great for anyone—victim or ally—to show that they have taken the pledge and support the #coffeetoo movement,” says the press release.
Along with the pledge, #coffeetoo hopes to host an informational session during Expo (details still to come). At the event, there will be free coffee, a chance to buy #coffeetoo merchandise, and experts on hand to talk about issues of sexual harassment and workplace discrimination. Folks will be able pick up an informational packet that addresses three key questions:
- What are our rights?
- What can we do if our rights have been violated?
- How can we take care of ourselves if we have been put through an unwanted or traumatic situation?
If you won’t be at Expo, that doesn’t mean you can’t take the pledge—you can copy and paste the images in this article and post them to your social media pages (although posting isn’t the same as taking and honoring the pledge). #Coffeetoo plans on doing more events in the future, so keep your ears open by following their Facebook page or Instagram account.