Papa John's mandates diversity training amid Schnatter flap: report

Papa John’s Pizza will require its employees and franchisees to undergo diversity training in the wake of the racial slur scandal that led to the resignation of the company’s founder and former CEO, John Schnatter, according to a report Friday.

The training will include exercises on understanding unconscious racial bias and advice on how to promote inclusivity in the workplace, CEO Steve Ritchie said in an open letter to staffers obtained by The Wall Street Journal. The embattled pizza chain is also taking steps to improve staff diversity.

“When I became CEO in January, diversity, equity and inclusion became one of my top priorities,” Ritchie wrote. “What began as a committee of passionate team members has grown into a company-wide effort to realize our values.”

Schnatter abruptly resigned as company chairman in July after a report revealed he had used a racial slur during a conference call with marketing executives last May. Later, he expressed regret for leaving the post and accused the board of pressuring him to resign without conducting a shareholder vote or an investigation into the conference call.

Papa John’s subsequently banned Schnatter from making media appearances and enacted a “poison pill” measure to prevent him, the company’s largest shareholder, from acquiring a controlling stake. In response, Schnatter launched a website entitled “” and took out a full-page advertisement in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

During an earnings call earlier this month, the pizza chain’s executives said sales fell 10 percent in July after Schnatter’s remark became public knowledge. The chain is revamping its marketing efforts and has removed Schnatter’s image from all brand materials.

“No matter what John does, he will not be able to distract from the inappropriate comments he made. We appreciate this support and are confident we are taking the right steps to move the company forward,” the company said in a statement earlier this week.