Sexual harassment at work has been front and center in the news over the past few months. It’s great that people are shining a light on a topic that has been avoided by so many for so long. The more we talk about it, the more we empower people – particularly women – to stand up to harassment and assault.

Spa employees are particularly vulnerable; they work in close quarters, alone, often touching people who are half dressed. So, when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace, prevention is everyone’s responsibility. And, as a manager, you must take on that responsibility.

Fatima Goss Graves, Chief executive, National Women’s Law Center in Washington DC told the New York Times, “Employers have a responsibility to protect workers from customer harassment, but that’s frequently trumped by the principle in the service industry that ‘the customer is always right.’ That makes it very hard for workers to confront customers or ask their employers to take action.”

Don’t be that employer. Be the better one.

Here are 5 ways you can help prevent sexual harassment and assault in your spa.

Take a stand. Have a statement available on your website and/or in your terms of agreement that sexual harassment of your team will not be tolerated in any form. Outline what constitutes unacceptable behaviour, so there are no later claims to confusion around the topic.

Have a protocol in place and discuss sexual harassment in your training sessions. Don’t shy away from discussing the topic until it’s too late. Your staff is potentially vulnerable – you know it, and they know it. Outline a zero-tolerance policy and make the protocol part of your onboarding. What does a therapist do if he or she faces a harassment or potential assault situation? What do they say? Who are they to go to, and what will that person do? Have a plan and lay it out so that you’re all on the same page.

Be the good guys. Staff should feel 100% comfortable coming to you with any issues and should know that you have their backs. Not only will you inspire confidence, but you’ll be keeping yourself in the loop. You should know what’s going on under your own roof and within your own spa business, so you don’t wind up getting blindsided by attrition, complaints, or even lawsuits. Keeping open communication lines helps promote security not just for your team, but also for you.

Have the courage to do the right thing. One of the reasons sexual harassment is so rampant in so many industries is because people are afraid to speak up, call out offenders, and defend themselves and those who depend on them. People are afraid of confrontation, of making a wrong decision, of losing business. The fear around standing up to sexual harassment and assault is what allows offenders to operate fearlessly. In a clear case where a team member has been harassed or assaulted, take action.

The therapist should alert the spa manager of what has happened. The manager should then go and tell the customer that the treatment is over and ask them to leave. The manager should not leave the customer alone with the therapist. Ideally, the customer should pay for the treatment in full. The customer should be informed that they will not be allowed to return to the spa. If the situation merits it, call the police. If the therapist was assaulted, charges should be laid. If you don’t alert the police, the individual will feel empowered to just go and assault someone else.

Keep records. Note in your software what has happened with the guest, and that they are banned for reasons of sexual harassment. One of Book4Time’s features is the possibility of adding notes and even blocking a customer from the spa. Your technician adds the notes about the reason for the ban.

There might also be a situation where it is unclear whether a line has been crossed; perhaps there was a questionable comment, a gesture about which the therapist was unsure, or just an attitude that caused a feeling of uneasiness. In such a case, it can be noted in a customer’s file, so therapists can be on guard. With Book4Time, that customer may also be banned from booking a particular technician. The replacement therapist should be informed of the situation, so it can be properly monitored.

We are all accountable for creating safe spaces.

 Fran Sepler, a consultant, trainer, and investigator on workplace harassment prevention told the New York Times, “Every worker in the service and hospitality industry must be told by management that their health and safety is more important than a sale or a customer. Every worker in service and hospitality must know that they are empowered to say: ‘I’m sorry, but it’s unacceptable to treat me this way. I am happy to have my manager come and talk to you about that if you like.’ You never have to smile at someone who is scaring or demeaning you.”

Contact our specialists today for information on how Book4Time can help you handle this threat and give peace of mind to your team.