My client invited himself to my hotel room. From the shocked expression on my face, he knew the answer was “no” and was fully prepared for that response.
“You don’t have to tell me your room number, but we both know that my name is on this hotel contract, so I can walk up to the front desk any time I want and get a rooming list with your name and room number on it,” he said.
This conversation took place many years ago, but I’ve never forgotten those words. The client was much older, married, and clearly in a position of power. If I wanted to continue to plan events for one of the largest companies in the world, he was key.
I was 29 years old and the only meeting planner on-site. The rest of my team was not expected to arrive until the following day. Worse, this wasn’t just any hotel. It was a resort venue and I had been upgraded to a condo/ cabin in the woods. What started out as a planner perk quickly became a liability. I remember taking a seat behind the registration desk so that no one would see my legs shaking.
I never went back to my hotel room. And I never told anyone why.
For those of us in the hospitality industry, this #MeToo movement is significant. Where and how we do our jobs puts us in high-risk situations. Many events occur in hotels, out of town, and there is often alcohol involved.
In addition, from banquet staff to planners, most of us are performing emotional labor, which is the process of managing our feelings and expressions to fulfill our job requirements. More specifically, we are expected to regulate our emotions during interactions with customers, co-workers and superiors.
In an industry that teaches us to say “yes” whenever possible, many of us have had to say “no” far too often.
So, I believe we are watching this #MeToo movement unfold with knowing eyes. The door is open for us to have meaningful dialogue that will inspire positive change.
It won’t be easy and it won’t be comfortable. Staying silent, however, should no longer be an option.
I wish I could tell my 29-year-old self to march into the HR department of a company where I was not an employee and file a complaint. But that was then, and this is now.
WE NEED TO:
>> Raise the global consciousness surrounding the obstacles women encounter in their daily lives, both personal and professional.
>> Review our company policies on sexual harassment, fairness and safety
>> Engage in frank conversations about what is considered acceptable behavior.
>> Create environments and build teams in which our colleagues feel comfortable raising concerns.
>> Conduct thorough investigations if incidents occur and, when necessary, insist on accountability.
>> Develop a formal reaction plan within our teams on how to deal with these situations and make sure to discuss it often among ourselves, including potential responses
Carol Galle, CMP, is the president and CEO of Special D Events, a business meeting and special event management agency and Detroit destination management company, based in Ferndale. She is a member of the Michigan Meetings + Events Hall of Fame and Editorial Advisory Board.