Steve Ritchie

Under the leadership of CEO Steve Ritchie, Papa Johns is launching several diversity initiatives. The company’s new efforts to support diversity have been introduced in an environment of reduced sales in North America. (Sales in the second quarter of 2018 saw a 6.1 percent drop in same-store sales for the region. July 2018 comps dropped further.) In August 2018 Steve Ritchie wrote an open letter to customers, employees, and franchisees in which he outlined what Papa Johns is doing to address diversity issues.

His letter notes that diversity efforts started with the company’s leadership. Steve Ritchie and members of his leadership team traveled to Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and Dallas to get feedback from franchisees and employees on how Papa Johns can improve. In addition, Steve Ritchie and other company leaders were the first in the company to go through “unconscious bias training”, which will be offered nationwide. The CEO also said that he is “personally committed to adding more diversity to the leadership team of Papa John’s.”

Steve Ritchie went on to announce two long-term initiatives. First, Papa Johns is creating a program to develop minority franchisees and increase their numbers. Secondly, the pizza chain is forming a foundation to support organizations that bring people together.

Steve Ritchie also noted that Papa Johns is getting outside advice on improving diversity. The company has already commissioned an independent audit of its diversity and inclusion efforts. The goal of the audit is to recommend actions the company can take to make improvements. In addition to the audit, Papa Johns put together an advisory board of inclusion, diversity, and equity experts to provide counsel on those issues.

A statement from the company’s new ad campaign may be the best summary for the company’s diversity initiatives: “You expected better from Papa John’s. So did we.”

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