Luke Visconti is the founder and CEO of DiversityInc. Although the title of his column is meant to be humorous, the issues he addresses and the answers he gives to questions are serious — and based on his 17 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.
Once again, Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter is in the news. The last time it was over his parsimonious Obamacare comments and healthcare for his employees; this time he blamed his declining sales on Black NFL player protests — which led Nazi website the Daily Stormer to declare his pizza the official pizza of Nazis.
What should your CEO do to avoid that endorsement?
1. First, remind them that it doesn’t really matter how they feel; the larger question is how your politics are serving your shareholders. If Trump is your CEO’s man, focus them on this: The demographic trends of this country show clearly that Trump is an anomaly. And find another job.
2. If, as a privileged white person, you feel compelled to offer an opinion about NFL protests, get your head out of Fox and read Professor Paul Butler’s book “Chokehold” or Professor Carol Anderson’s book “White Rage” before you clear up any ambiguity about your intelligence.
3. Avoid taking grand public stances on diversity when you don’t have the accomplishments to back up the publicity grab. Google your company name and senior leadership. Mostly/all white? Only men in P&L positions? Be quiet or you’re going to sound like the red-faced guy at every football stadium yelling “advice” to the coach. Papa John stock is underperforming the DJIA by more than 50 percentage points over the past 12 months. See point 1 above.
4. If, despite all your best intentions, you get into a jam like this, it would be a really good idea to have built up a reservoir of good will that shows up on web searches. Not like this (one of our more popular stories ever).
Schnatter has since tried to disavow the Daily Stormer’s endorsement. Are you buying it? Neither am I.