For so many people (women, in particular) who work in the restaurant world, sexual harassment has long felt like one of the inevitable risks of their jobs. While it's an issue across industries, according to a recent study from BuzzFeed News, more sexual harassment claims have been made by employees at full-service restaurants since 1995 than in any other industry. Karen Leibowitz, co-owner of The Perennial (a San Francisco-based restaurant), believes that, beginning with a few crucial measures, sexual harassment doesn't have to be an unavoidable risk. Along with Kelli Anderson, a Brooklyn-based graphic designer, Leibowitz created a PSA-style poster that they hope will soon start showing up in eateries across America.
The poster gives employees four actionable steps in case they encounter or witness sexual harassment in the workplace. Its design was inspired by instructional Heimlich maneuver posters, meant to help chocking victims, which diners and restaurant employees are used to seeing all the time.
We spoke to Leibowitz about how she first came up with the idea: "In the backs of restaurants, we have posters outlining workers’ rights to breaks and sick leave and minimum wage, but I thought we should also have a poster that explained our right to a fair and safe workplace. I was thinking about posters in restaurants, which led me to remember the Heimlich maneuver posters that I used to see in New York," Leibowitz told Refinery29.
After thinking up the concept, it was another woman who connected Leibowitz with Kelli Anderson, a Brooklyn-based graphic designer who has worked on branding projects for many well-known New York restaurants. "Here at The Perennial, we have collaborated with Wendy MacNaughton, who is an incredible illustrator and also runs Women Who Draw, which is a directory of women illustrators and graphic designers. So I asked Wendy who she recommended, and she put me in touch with Kelli." Leibowitz shared her concept with Anderson, and after some research and design collaboration, the poster was created.
Since creating the poster, the duo has partnered with CherryBombe as part of its #86This project. Now, anyone can visit the CherryBombe website to download a copy of the poster. Prints of the poster are also available for purchase through the site. It's available in both English and Spanish, and Leibowitz told Refinery29 that she's now working with another friend to make a Chinese version of the poster.
When asked about her ultimate goal in creating this poster, Leibowitz explained that she doesn't want victims of sexual harassment to feel powerless. "I want people to feel that they have resources. Imagine that you have a chef who is trying to protect his or her workers puts the poster up and another member of the staff like the general manager is a harasser. I don’t think the GM would be able to remove the poster in a subtle way, so you would have resources available to people who might otherwise feel trapped," she said.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).