Newswise — On the heels of revelations about some of Hollywood’s most notorious sex scandals come similar exposés that bring to light how pervasive sexual harassment is across many industries. One important industry is agribusiness, particularly the restaurant business.
“It’s far more widespread than anyone wants to talk about or admit,” said David Van Fleet, a professor in the Morrison School of Agribusiness at Arizona State University.
In his 2017 paper, “Human capital, workplace violence, and human resource management in agribusiness: Review and recommendations,” published in the Journal of Agribusiness, Van Fleet identifies different types of workplace violence in agribusiness and how companies can address them through human resource management strategies.
According to Van Fleet, there are steps an organization can take to eliminate sexual harassment and other forms of workplace violence.
First, they need to look inward. While many organizations have human resources policies in place, they are often quite general and non-specific to the company’s unique culture.
“The recent article about sexual harassment in Boston restaurants clearly points to the need for restaurant owners to conduct anonymous surveys to their employees to locate and remove harassers,” Van Fleet said. “It would seem to me that the company would want to know about it so they could take action.”
In reality, many companies are reticent to engage in these surveys, even though they are anonymous.
“The agribusiness industry is enormous, and yet very little research has been done,” Van Fleet explained. “That’s one of my frustrations: I’ve been trying to contact grocers and fast-food restaurants to get them to survey their employees, all anonymously. They are gun-shy. They don’t want to have anything to do with it.”
To schedule an interview with Dr. Van Fleet, or for more information, contact Katherine Reedy at Katherine.Reedy@asu.edu or (480) 965-3779.