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Papa John’s Is Delivering More Than Pizza

Pizza delivery company Papa John’s International (PZZA) recently announced they are linking executive and team members’ pay to ESG goals.

As of 2022, its corporate incentive bonus plan will be tied to Papa John’s performance in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), environmental impacts, and its commitment to using better ingredients.

Photo Courtesy Lucian Alexe

The company announced this decision and its 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report, which outlines Papa John’s ESG goals.

“As Papa John’s continues to grow, we remain focused on priorities that set us up for long-term success and create a positive impact on the world around us,” said Rob Lynch, president, and CEO of Papa John’s.

“We are proud to be among the few companies in our industry linking incentive compensation with achieving ESG initiatives. Taking this step emphasizes the importance we have placed on corporate responsibility.”  

An ESG metric was added to Papa John’s Management Incentive Plan (MIP) for all eligible full-time team members. Its progress will be evaluated against the company’s ESG priorities that align with Papa John’s purpose and values.

The priorities include advancing DEI, improving reporting, identifying opportunities to address its environmental impact, and boosting the company’s better-ingredient commitments.

Last year, Papa John’s took on several initiatives in those areas.

Within the DEI strategy, the company prioritized recruiting in areas of greatest need to diversify the candidate pool for all managers and above positions. To achieve this, Papa John’s works with university partners and participates in career fairs, networking panels, and internships. It also works with Women in Tech, Women in Trucking, and United Negro College Fund (UNCF). 

The company announced a three-year RISE (Recruiting Interns to Succeed Excel) internship program to enhance opportunities for scholars coming from historically black colleges and universities. The first class of interns will start work this summer.

“We are working to build an inclusive culture that reflects the expansive nature of our brand and encourages team members from all backgrounds and experiences to bring their authentic selves to work,” said Marvin Boakye, chief people and diversity officer at Papa Johns.

The pizza delivery firm announced that more than 96% of its U.S. senior managers and above completed Managing Inclusion training last year. The virtual session focused on making leaders more aware of biases and uncovering untapped talent in their teams, said the company in its report. “In 2022, we plan to roll out the training to all frontline managers, as well as introduce Conscious Inclusion training for all team members,” it added.

Last year, the company’s workforce composition included 30% females in management positions. Its senior management team positions counted 4% female, 2% African American and 1% LGBTQ+ members.

In addition to building out its internal diversity, Papa Johns is also looking for supply partners “who are aligned with our core values of Everyone Belongs, Innovate to Win and Do the Right Thing.” Via its Supplier Diversity Program, the company supports and contributes to the growth of small and minority, women, disabled, veteran, and LGBTQ+-owned businesses.

Photo Courtesy Alan Hardman

As a food delivery business, Papa John’s has a strong focus on food safety and hygiene and sourcing quality ingredients for its pizzas. 

“Papa Johns was the first national pizza delivery chain to announce the removal of artificial flavors and synthetic colors from our core menu, including preservatives such as BHA and BHT, flavor enhancer MSG, partially hydrogenated oils, and high-fructose corn syrup,” said the company. “In addition, we have eliminated the use of palm oil from most of our food. In the few products where it is used, we source only certified sustainable palm oil.”

On the environmental front, Papa John’s has outlined four priority areas: sustainable packaging and materials management, sustainable agriculture, food waste, and greenhouse gas emissions.

In prior years, Papa John’s went electric to refrigerate their trailers, reduced diesel use by more than 25%, and plans to complete this transition to all centers this year. It also introduced cool-rinse cleaning systems in all its quality control centers. 


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