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Papa John’s is rolling out diversity training across the company

Posted at 4:22 PM, Aug 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-24 16:22:25-04

Papa John’s is rolling out mandatory bias training for its workers.

CEO Steve Ritchie announced the program in a note to staff Friday. The Papa John’s leadership team finished their own training two weeks ago.

The news follows a swirl of controversy surrounding the company’s founder, John Schnatter, who resigned as chairman when news broke last month that he had used the N-word during a conference call.

Papa John’s has distanced itself from Schnatter, removing his image from marketing materialskicking him out of his office and trying to stop him from gaining more control of the company.

Schnatter has since attacked Ritchie’s leadership of the company and said it was a mistake to resign.

The company sales were already suffering, and the decline accelerated after the Schnatter scandal broke.

The company has hired Bank of America and Lazard to help stabilize the business, a source told CNNMoney on Friday. The source declined to give further details, and Bank of America and Lazard declined to comment. The news was reported earlier by Reuters.

Papa John’s said the training was proposed by a diversity and inclusion committee earlier this year.

Training will start in October at the corporate office and at corporate-owned stores, which make up about 20% of its the chain’s US restaurants. Eventually, the company plans to train all employees.

The program will include conversations about unconscious bias, racial and cultural sensitivity and managing bias.

The company is also conducting an internal audit on diversity and inclusion practices, launching a program to support minority-owned franchises and starting a foundation focused on local communities.

Ritchie said he was “personally committed to adding more diversity to the leadership team of Papa John’s.”

The company seems to be following a similar playbook to that of Starbucks, which mandated anti-bias training after two black men were arrested while waiting for a friend at a Philadelphia location.

Starbucks closed about 8,000 stores for an afternoon to conduct the elaborate training, which tapped the musician and activist Common as a virtual session leader and relied on the guidance of more than 30 experts.

Ritchie became CEO in January, after Schnatter stepped down. Schnatter left his post in the wake of a different scandal: In November, he said the NFL’s handling of player protests hurt pizza sales.

Papa John’s has also promised to help franchise owners who may have lost sales because of the uproar caused by Schnatter.