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Papa Johns names first Latino Chief Diversity Officer

Recovering from recent controversies, the national pizza chain has named Elias Reyna to the role.

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On Nov. 28, the Papa Johns fast food chain named Elias Reyna its new Chief Diversity Officer. He will be the first Latino to hold the position, joining the company following the departure of the previous CDO, Marvin Boakye, earlier in the month.

Reyna will be responsible for ensuring the company takes into account diversity, equity, and inclusion as he oversees the hiring, managing, compensation, and benefits of the chain’s employees.

Prior to Reyna’s appointment, he was VP of Human Resources and People Services, and had experience as a people operations manager at the company’s second headquarters.

“Based on my previous experience at Papa Johns, [I] have known it to be a place that valued diversity at all levels. I’m proud to build upon the diversity of existing leadership,” Reyna told HR Dive.

His predecessor, previous CDO Boakye, oversaw the company during a tumultuous period in the company’s history, beginning six months after the company founder John Schnatter resigned over backlash of the use of the “N word” in a call between the PR team and the company C-suite, leading to Schnatter’s resignation as CEO and chairman.

This event was not an isolated incident, however. This was discovered in 2018 when Forbes investigated the company’s workplace culture, interviewing 37 current and former employees.

From their testimonies, they reported cases of workplace misogyny, degrading sexual remarks, and a “bro culture” enforced by upper management, who were comprised of those chosen by Schnatter, with one veteran employee describing the public company being run like a private company.

During this period of upheaval, it was revealed that there was no diversity and inclusion officer present within the company, leading to the placement of Boakye as CDO.

Boakye oversaw the implementation of several DEI policies as listed on their public DEI goals webpage, setting goals such as workplace diversification and the embedding of policies and practices to ensure fairness, accountability, and build trust.

Additional changes include LGBTQ-inclusive benefits, earning the company a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2021 Corporate Equality Index, and 100% employee completion of unconscious bias training.

As Reyna takes on his new role, he seeks to fulfill the company’s DEI initiatives and improve upon them.

“Elias couldn’t be a better culture fit for Papa Johns as he is a model of our core values. His proven leadership experience in our company and his existing relationships with our teams will make him a great asset in this role,” said President and CEO Rob Lynch stated in a press release.

“We have a great opportunity to build upon the commitments we have made in recent years, that have helped transform our business and chart our path for future growth,” Reyna said to HR Drive.

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