Creating and Maintaining Equity (CASE) requires companies to sign a pledge

A handful of businesses in the downtown New Bern neighborhood are taking action to develop new guidelines to tackle sexual harassment and violence in the workplace.

A local organization Creating and Maintaining Fairness (CASE) is asking business owners to sign a Safer Workplace Pledge agreeing to let CASE review their policies on harassment and sexual assault.

If the company does not have a policy in place, the commitment requires that they work with CASE to create one.

CASE President Caitlin Trombley said four companies in the region have signed the pledge so far and a fifth appears to be on board. She said a number of companies signed on at the October 2 Twilight Women’s March in New Bern, which brought together local citizens to express support for women’s causes, including sexual assault and harassment. .

The companies that have signed the pledge so far are: Harris Realty and More (owned by Alderwoman Jameesha Harris), Brewery 99, The Black Cat Shoppe and New Bern Good News, Trombley said.

She said Bear Town Market also signed the pledge but has yet to see the documents.

The pledge states that businesses “stand with victims in my community who have experienced sexual harassment and / or sexual violence. I believe silence is acceptance, and in order to be proactive in preventing sexual harassment and / or sexual violence in my business / organization, I commit to Creating and Maintaining Equity assesses my policies (or lack thereof) in order to make my business / organization safer for everyone. In addition, I agree to take reports of sexual harassment and / or sexual violence in my business / organization seriously and will act upon such reports immediately. “

Olivia Hargett, director of The Black Cat Shoppe, said the engagement was important in order to protect both employees and owners.

“We want to do what’s right; we want everyone to feel as safe as possible. And we want to be an open and secure place to do business. We want to be proactive about all of this, ”she commented.

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Hargett said The Black Cat Shoppe currently does not have a sexual harassment policy in place.

“We are looking forward and excited to be able to create one with CASE,” she said.

Trombley said that after CASE evaluates or creates a company’s policy, she will receive a certificate and sticker to put on her front door or window to show the company is committed to providing workplaces. safer for everyone.

“We will meet the company wherever they are and work with them,” said Trombley. “Each one we create will be unique based on the needs of the business.”

When asked what she believed to be an effective policy on sexual harassment and violence, Trombley replied: “One of the problems is defining things. If you don’t have a clear definition of what sexual harassment is or if it’s too vague then if someone is trying to act it’s like, well, is it really sexual harassment? ? She commented. “Apart from that, what’s important is to make sure all employees are comfortable with the statement. And allow employees to contribute to everything we offer so that they feel important in the workplace.

Pete Frey, owner of Brewery 99, said he signed the pledge in part because of his appreciation for the work CASE has done in the past.

“I’ve known them for a while and this isn’t their first call for social outreach action that they’ve made, so I trust them enough,” Frey said. “I think they’re very smart and I love their motivation and the way they come up with ideas and manifest and manifest. Whatever they do, I will support them.

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Frey said he would work with CASE to update Brewery 99’s pre-existing policy.

“We set guidelines some time ago just because we thought it would be a good idea as a company to have a certain ethic to follow,” he commented.

Frey said he was concerned about the mental and physical well-being of his employees.

“Two women work here, one is a brewer and the other is a bartender. I just want them never to be uncomfortable, I just never want to lose them as employees. So I tried to think of everything I could do to make them feel comfortable and happy, ”Frey said. “We really tried to support each other. “

Trombley said she believes businesses accept the reality of sexual harassment more easily than in the past.

“I think it’s good for the company to think about it so that it doesn’t get stuck in a bad position. I think everyone is ready to go ahead and do something to make people feel safe at work, so they’re really open to it, ”Trombley said.

“We hope to go through all the businesses in the city center and drop the pledge and leave it to them,” she added.

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