By Brittany Shoot
August 24, 2018

Beleaguered pizza chain Papa John’s has a new ingredient rolling out nationwide: mandatory anti-bias diversity training.

Corporate office and corporate-owned stores—about 20% of the company’s locations—will begin trainings in October. The program, which will include information about unconscious bias and racial and cultural sensitivity, will eventually be available to all company workers.

Papa John’s chief executive Steve Ritchie, who has been CEO for just over a year, made the announcement to staff on Friday, according to CNN. Papa John’s corporate leadership completed its training two weeks ago, and the company is conducting an internal audit on diversity and inclusion practices.

The change comes at a crucial moment as the pizza chain struggles to burnish its brand after its founder was ousted for using a racial slur. Company founder John “Papa John” Schnatter resigned last month after it was reported that Schnatter used the N-word on a conference call with the company’s marketing agency. Already, his name and image has been removed from the Papa John’s logo and marketing materials.

But since leaving the company he founded in 1984, Schnatter has been critical of Ritchie and said it was a mistake to turn in his pizzaiolo apron. Before resigning from the company, Schnatter stepped down as CEO last year following critical statements he made about National Football League (NFL) owners and players protesting police brutality by kneeling before games. In February, the NFL and Papa John’s ended their longtime league sponsorship deal.

Papa John’s has also taken another step to stabilize the business: hiring Bank of America and asset manager Lazard. The institutions will help the chain develop strategy, or if necessary, advise on possible private equity takeover offers, Reuters reported on Friday.

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