2020 has been a hard year for everyone, especially those working in the service sector who cannot work at home from their laptop, like our team here at Zest. I joined the team partway into the Covid crisis in August, after having left a job where I was treated quite poorly. Entering a new work environment during such a globally intense time was scary, especially as a trans non-binary person- would my new boss and colleagues use my chosen name and pronouns? Would I be subject to the uncomfortable jokes that were reoccurring at my last job? I couldn’t afford to not work after leaving my previous job.

I specifically applied to Zest Café because I knew they offered extra staff training my previous employment lacked and aimed to hire those who faced employment barriers- I’ve learned that being trans certainly counts as one of those. But I didn’t realise until I began working here just how seriously Lisa and the entire team take their mission of inclusivity and mutual support. More than just respect my name and pronouns, my coworkers and boss actively try to understand and ask how they can make me more comfortable. When I first introduced myself with my preferred pronouns to a fellow staff member, she simply smiled and said hello with her own name and pronouns. It was such a relief to realise that I’d found a place which cared for me beyond the labour I provide.

Having now worked here several months, I continue to be awed by how supportive the staff is of one another. When someone is having a bad day, we switch positions and jobs in the café with ease. If someone needs extra training or help learning a task, others are happy to lend a hand or a couple pointers, and Lisa schedules staff-led training sessions. When a customer is unkind, you can always count on having someone check you’re okay. Even through such a stressful time as 2020, Zest maintains a sense of community between staff-members and a strong emphasis on education and personal growth.

I never quite realised how much there was to learn both about coffee and service, but also about workplace diversity, support, and teamwork until working at Zest.

~ Greysen B.