At the Master Innholders General Managers Conference dinner last week, CBI director general Digby Jones made a plea to end the "blame culture" that has become endemic in today's society.
He's right, of course. "Find a scapegoat" has become a popular game and it's something that affects hospitality as much as anyone. We live in an age when, increasingly, customers complain more vigorously, an age when California-style legal action is adopted as the first option for customers who have been offended. You know what I mean: "I enjoyed a great meal, had too much to drink and fell over" becomes "I slipped while leaving the restaurant; I'm going to sue".
No-one seems to accept responsibility for their actions these days - parents of misbehaving schoolchildren blame teachers for poor discipline; NHS patients arriving late for appointments accuse hospitals of inefficiency.
But how do you reverse the trend? It has to start at home. How many times do we blame failure on someone else? Is my poor trading position really due to the government's handling of the economy or is it my own bad management? Is there a skills shortage because colleges don't train properly or are my work conditions just not good enough to attract the right staff?
If hospitality adopts a culture of mutual support, the public trend for cynicism might be reversed. It's a tough call, but why not let it start here? We're in the best position in this industry to change the way people think.
Digby Jones joked about a "charter of human responsibility" but we don't need more bureaucracy from the government or the European Union. If we start being more honest with ourselves, maybe everyone else will follow suit. And if they don't, I'm sure we can find someone to blame.
by Forbes Mutch, Editor, Caterer & Hotelkeeper