"a place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm"
Kitchens are notoriously difficult environments - hot, sweaty, pressured spaces where keeping the above statement as a priority proves challenging. But when we set out on our mission to create Nourishment in every way possible for a small business - to nurture not only those that use our service, but those that work for it - we built in a culture of acceptance, which has only gotten more important to me as the years have gone by. I've also learned (and been taught) time and again how to do a better job of it - and that it can look and feel a little different for everyone, so that we have to reevaluate, and make time for group discussion regularly.
One of the ways we ensure that people we hire understand this key tenant is that we make it a large part of the hiring process. We discuss during interviews, stages, and training, and make it part of the agreement people sign after reading our handbook. If there are questions, or mistakes made, they are addressed immediately by all supervising staff. If something inappropriate is said on the floor during a shift, and an immediate apology isn't offered, we ask the employee to leave, and if there are repeat offenses, they are let go.
Over time, the word gets out - and humans that are personally invested in that part of our company culture find us, stay a long while, and add their own ideologies and ways of thinking to our culture. Queer culture requires some softness and spacekeeping, and so our kitchens become places that people that identify as queer are happy to work and to be. We've been privileged to hold space for several people as they came out or transitioned, as well, which I always say have been some of my favorite moments of owning Nourish and Plant Joy.
My belief is that eating sustainably and vegan are radically progressive acts - and that they intersect with queer and progressive ideologies across the brands and companies we've built this last decade isn't by chance, but proudly by design. May we all accept and enjoy the myriad ways humans are and can be, and continue to make space for all. And don't forget to eat your veggies!