Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

When Tari Shear got her start in the restaurant industry as a hostess, she says enduring sexual harassment was one of the “expectations” of her job.

Forced to put up with unwanted advances by customers and coworkers alike, Ms. Shear said she could be sent home if she didn’t dress to the provocative tastes of her supervisors.

She’s since moved to an office job, but said she still hears horror stories from front line restaurant workers subjected to sexual remarks, inappropriate touching and harsh scrutiny of their physical appearance.

Story continues below advertisement

“It silences people. It makes you tolerate things that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to,” said Ms. Shear, who still has many friends in the service industry. “There has to be a real change in culture.”

This week’s bombshell misconduct allegations against an Ontario winemaker have many culinary workers calling for change, saying a much broader sexism pervades the food and wine world.

Renewed scrutiny emerged after Norman Hardie apologized “to all those who felt marginalized, demeaned or objectified while working for or alongside me.”

The Globe and Mail first reported numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against the Prince Edward County winemaker earlier this week, including unwanted sexual contact and inappropriate remarks.

Mr. Hardie’s statement admitted some of the allegations were true, but denied other parts of the report.

Various players big and small appeared eager to take a stand on the issue on Friday, with Ontario’s liquor control board, Quebec’s liquor commission and various restaurants across the country announcing they had dropped Mr. Hardie’s beverages.

The scandal has amplified a conversation about harassment in Canada’s dining scene, but David McMillan, co-owner of Montreal’s Joe Beef, said some influential voices have been notably absent.

Story continues below advertisement

“I’m stunned, stunned to see the silence of some people,” Mr. McMillan said. “Where are my peers and colleagues?”

With a largely young and economically vulnerable work force, Mr. McMillan said the cutthroat culinary world makes it hard for victims of harassment to speak out without fear of retribution.

Backed by a team of strong women, he said he tries to create a safe work environment for female staff members, but there’s one element he can’t control – the customers.

“I see more inappropriate behaviour towards my staff from diners than I do internally at any restaurant,” Mr. McMillan said, adding that any guest who mistreats a female employee will be asked to apologize or be shown the door.

Hemant Bhagwani, owner of the Kolkata Club in Mississauga, Ont., said change has to start at the top of the food chain, which is why he was the first employee at the British Raj-style eatery to be trained about sexual harassment in the workplace.

“We just talk about the problems, I don’t think anybody talks about the solution,” said Mr. Bhagwani, who founded the Amaya franchise of Indian eateries.

Story continues below advertisement

“I have to step up myself. I think it’s our responsibility, also, people who have done well in this city.”

Many restaurants are stricken by a “bro culture” that abets sexist banter among male coworkers, often at the expense of their female colleagues, Mr. Bhagwani said.

Restaurateur Stacey Patterson said she helped launch Open Kitchen Toronto, a dining series showcasing female chefs, to foster camaraderie among women in a male-dominated field. A portion of the proceeds from a fundraiser Monday will go toward a female culinary scholarship at Toronto’s George Brown College, she said.

The gender imbalance is even more pronounced in the food manufacturing industry, adds Amy Proulx. When she got her start two decades ago, she said the number of female workers on the factory floor was exceeded by the pages of pin-up girls on her male colleagues’ lockers.

Ms. Proulx said her then-boss repeatedly walked in on her while she was changing, one of many “red flags” that prompted her to quit.

“It happened 20 years ago, and I still shake,” she says. “It’s like a ghost or a shadow that hangs over me.”

Story continues below advertisement

Now a food technology professor at Niagara College, Ms. Proulx said she sees versions of her “bright-eyed” younger self in her female students, which is why she shares the experience in her classes.

“Food is one of those driving passions for many people, and it’s why so many people are attracted to the industry,” she said. “You can’t be taking advantage of people’s ambitions and manipulating them in ways that demean people.”

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies