‘Tis the season as the say. The season for giving gifts, enjoying ugly sweaters and (unfortunately) gaining exposure to free flowing booze cups at corporate holiday parties. To their credit though, many major companies this year are looking to ban alcohol from their festive workplace events.
Interestingly enough, the recent harassment claims against celebs like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer may actually be the catalyst for this. “Workplace sexual misconduct” (as it is officially labeled) appears to be on the rise, or better said, the reporting of workplace sexual misconduct appears to be on the rise. And we, for one, are happy it is getting exposed. Of course employees should behave themselves in a respectable manor and not put co-workers in uncomfortable situations. So banning alcohol has become a popular first step to alleviate these liabilities.
Vox Media is one of the first major businesses to usher the “no booze” mandate. Their chief editorial director was fired this past October for sexual misconduct and, as a result, holiday party open bars are no more there. As their company memo told the staff, “we plan to ramp up the food and cut off the drinks.”
The research firm Challenger & Gray conducted a survey for The Boston Globe this month and discovered that 50 percent of all major Fortune 500 companies are no longer serving alcohol at their holiday parties this year. And of those who are, 62 percent are cutting back on the amount of booze that they buy.
Many companies are also switching their party times to the afternoon or mid-day. And of the ones who are still including alcohol, the cocktail open bar rule is no more. Now it is strictly beer and wine, which employees are expected to pay for with cash (in the hopes of discouraging overindulgences).
For many businesses, as The Globe reports, these new policies are helpful on many levels. Not only are the executives able to avoid excess drunkenness, they are saving a substantial amount of money by removing expensive wine and liquor bottles from the equation.
While we are all for the concept of removing booze due to harassment concerns, we also support it for an entirely different reason. Having alcohol readily available in front of employees can also be extremely insensitive, particularly for people in recovery. These types of temptations make it very difficult for those hoping to avoid addictive situations. And having drunken coworkers in your face makes the resistance that much harder.
So yes, of course removing alcohol from workplace events is a fantastic idea. Our hope is that the remainder of the “open bar” corporations take the hint and soon follow suit.