“Strange” customs?

How tolerant are we of the immigrants in our workplaces?

Recently, while conducting a survey of readers about issues and challenges they are facing in their jobs, I touched on the topic of human resource issues. I threw out an assumption that stated, in part, that operators are hiring some employees “who may bring, or try to bring, strange customs into the workplace.” My point was to indicate that workforces throughout the industry are becoming more diverse. I quickly received a reply from a reader who put me in my place, so to speak.  This is what she wrote:

“Calling them ‘strange customs’ is part of the problem. We need to recognize that we are living in a world that is rapidly changing, and if we are going to be successful we need to honor all customers and employees. Training is needed to better understand each other, new employees and new customers.”

First of all, shame on me for using the phrase “strange customs.” A better way to say it would have been: “customs that may seem strange to Americans.” Many Americans are arrogant about our “superiority” and often are condescending about things we don’t understand. We tend to dismiss some customs or modes of dress, for instance, either as “silly” or as things that have no place in our society. “If you want to (fill in the blank), go back to your own country. You’re in America now.”

It is interesting to note how easily people can forget where they came from, or what their ancestors faced when they were immigrants—and, technically, everyone in this country is a descendant of immigrants.

It’s also ironic that some of the same people who believe that new immigrants should turn their backs on their heritage and quickly assimilate into “American” culture would probably go ballistic if someone were to suggest that we ban such things as Polish Heritage Days, Greek festivals or (gasp!) the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Our reader is absolutely right, and in the coming months we will be examining how operators deal with immigrant workers, including how they themselves become educated about these “strange” customs and how they handle them in the workplace. We’ll be soliciting your views, and I’d love to hear from you.

Keywords: 
human resources

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The menu served at Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, is headed for an overhaul after its CEO and management team ate a strict hospital food diet for a week and were unhappy with their options. The foodservice department has been fielding patient complaints for years, but decided to take action after facing the issue head on.

“Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat,” Director of Food Services Kevin Peters told Ottawa...

Industry News & Opinion

With overtime pay likely to become a reality for some salaried foodservice employees after Dec. 1, operators are rethinking what they expect managers to do off-site as part of their responsibilities. Answering email or scheduling shifts at home didn’t matter when the employees were exempted from overtime if they earned more than $23,660 per year. But with that threshold more than doubling on Dec. 1 to $47,476, a half hour spent here and there on administrative tasks could push a salaried manager over the 40-hours-per-week threshold and entitle him or her to overtime. And how does the...

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

FSD Resources