We ran news on the Safe Bars P.A.C.T. initiative a while back, a collaborative response by beverage industry professionals to change brewery culture and rid it of sexual harassment and other sexual violence. That article focused on Safe Bars PACT and its two-pronged approach: 1) Sign the code of conduct, 2) undergo Safe Bars Active Bystander Training.
We told you to go do it, but we didn’t do a great job explaining Safe Bars itself and why active bystander training is so important. So, we reached back out to the Safe Bars team to do just that.
What is Safe Bars and how can I start one locally?
Safe Bars exists as a non-profit in Washington, D.C., that started up to train local bars, restaurants and clubs in active bystander skills for interrupting harassment and worse. Since then local teams have popped up in 25 towns, big and small.
“We have a train the trainer model where if folks in a city want to have a local Safe Bars capacity, we help them stand up a local team and give them everything they need to run a program and train them,” says Lauren Taylor, co-founder.
Crucial to the Safe Bars training model is two subject matter experts: 1) hospitality, 2) sexual violence.
“Usually, somebody from one of those worlds reaches out to us, and then we connect them with the other folks,” Lauren says. Safe Bars programs are often housed in an ancillary organization like a rape crisis center or a local bartenders guild. Some programs are run by volunteers or as part of an ancillary organization like a rape crisis center or bartenders’ guilds. Others are standalone, full-time jobs.
Are craft breweries signing up?
Safe Bars had been working with breweries before PACT and before Brianne’s post, but they saw an uptick shortly after.
“We’ve trained about 25 breweries since May,” Lauren says. “Some of the bigger ones too. We worked with New Belgium a while ago. We’re working with Boston Beer now, training many of their taprooms separately around the country. So even apart from the PACT, breweries are stepping up.”
The Safe Bars P.A.C.T. Initiative was created by a team of founding partners — Andrew Coplon of Craft Beer Professionals, Safe Bars, Julie Rhodes of Not Your Hobby Marketing Solutions, Dana Kaluzny of Social Impact Projects, and Lady Justice Brewing — and was assisted by RadCraft and HalfDay Studio. Pre-launch, more than 60 U.S. craft breweries expressed interest in joining the P.A.C.T. (though not a ton have converted to the do the training yet).
“In craft beer, I think, this is clearly an issue, but also there’s a lot of open minds and a desire to change too, so I think that’s going to push us over the edge,” says AJ Head, Safe Bars program manager.
Cost of training
The training does have a cost, but it depends on the size of the brewery, ranging from $450 to $1,800. Overall a pretty good deal for stopping sexual violence at your place of business and helping customers and employees (aka human beings) feel safe. But Safe Bars P.A.C.T. came up with a great idea for interested but cash-strapped breweries – brew the Brave Noise collab and use it as a fundraiser for the training.
Is just the PACT Code of Conduct enough?
No, but it is still an important step on its own. “It’s an opening for that conversation that can have a huge impact,” Lauren says. Some reasons:
- The code of conduct (called “Our House, Our Rules”) is a public declaration. If a patron sees it in a taproom and they have a bad experience, they would be more likely to say something than if there was no public declaration.
- Even people with their heart in the right place, people who want to treat everybody with respect, might not know how to articulate that or carry it out as a policy. The code is that template for walking the walk.
But yes, you should still undergo training to ensure you walk that walk.
“It takes more than introducing these concepts to your team or industry,” AJ says. “The code introduces language and ideas, but we go further when we train, the ultimate goal for Safe Bars is to change the culture one establishment at a time.”
The core of Safe Bars training is …
Being able to pick up on problems and take action. The good news is almost everyone in hospitality is already doing this to some degree. For one, various regulations require bartenders to monitor guest consumption and their behavior in relation to being overserved. “We are just asking to broaden what you’re looking at,” AJ says. “If you see disrespectful behavior, it is within your power and responsibility to do something about it. It creates a safer environment and also results in better business — and fewer lawsuits and legal attention.”
And here too, staff is likely already doing much of this.
“In training, we spend the first period just hearing what people are already doing, and it becomes this skill swap,” Lauren says. “Maybe you’re behind the bar and you have one technique but I’m a server and I have another, but we never sat down and talked about it as a team. Part of Safe Bars is that skill swap to give people more tools in their toolbox and the language for it.”
The No. 1 thing trainees don’t realize is …
Depending on your source for the stat, 75 to 90 percent of sexual assaults happen between people who know each other.
“People are already keeping an eye out for the creeper, but the vast majority of sexual assault is by someone the victim knows,” Lauren notes. “I can’t tell you how many times people will have conversations in training and say, ‘I didn’t know if they knew each other.’ Well, if they knew each other, why is it different? The behavior is still problematic. … Pay attention to people who came in together. Friends, couples, and people who look like they are in a couple or on first dates.”
Training is important for expanding people’s minds about things they’re already doing.
Safe Bars also trains people to stand up for themselves
“Early on, workers in these spaces would say to us, ‘well that’s all well and good, but If I am being harassed, I don’t want to have to wait for someone to intervene – what can I do on behalf of myself?,” said Lauren.
As a result, Safe Bars introduced Empowerment and Self-Defense Training. Here, trainees learn how to stand up for themselves when harassed in the workplace, using assertiveness and boundary setting skills in tricky situations tied to their paychecks.
And during the pandemic, many patrons decided they could start behaving worse than ever, so Safe Bars also offers de-escalation training to deal with all manners of public misbehavior.