Schnucks vows to continue efforts to address diversity, inclusiv - KMOV.com

Schnucks vows to continue efforts to address diversity, inclusiveness after FB video

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MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

The Facebook video of a south St. Louis grocery store employee refusing to sell a couple a money order has been viewed more than a million times.

Schnucks fired their employee Tuesday after he was accused of racial discrimination during the interaction the day before.

News 4 met with Schnucks Head of Communications Erica Van Ross and asked why they chose to act quickly.

“We want to make decisions on a customer-first standpoint and if we see instances where that’s not happening as a company we want to be quick to step in and say that, that’s not right,” Van Ross said.

Van Ross said the company started a task force in October 2017 to address issues of diversity and inclusion.

She said that task force is diverse itself. It’s made up of employees not only from different races, ethnic backgrounds and gender, but also representatives from their rural and city stores and people from varying job levels ranging from managers to meat cutters.

“You just want a diversity of thought and experience to make sure you’re addressing all the needs of your teammates and customers,” said Van Ross.

The spokeswoman said the members of the task force went through training for bias and diversity among other topics and now they’re implementing what they’ve learned at different locations.

“It started with small things, recognitions we did with Black History Month and Women’s History Month,” said Van Ross. “We're going to have our first booth at Pride this summer so that group will be a core group to figure out all things diversity, equity and inclusion for Schnucks and we're really excited about it,” she added.

With a lot of attention nationally over two African-American men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks in April when they were just waiting for a business meeting and even an instance locally where the president of Nordstrom flew to St. Louis to apologize to three young black men who said they were falsely accused of theft at a Brentwood Square Nordstrom Rack location, News 4 asked if Schnucks is paying attention to what is happening at other businesses and if that impacts their decision making.

“If you have values as a company, you have things that you believe in, which we do, it’s really very easy to look at situations and instances and think, ‘What do we as a company believe? What do we want our customers to know? What do we want our teammates to know and how can how actions be best representative of that?’ and we really focus on that, more than what anybody else is doing,” said Van Ross.

The CEO of Schnucks has publicly apologized to the couple and issued a statement Tuesday:

Creating an environment where customers receive exceptional service is one of Schnucks' core values. The exact opposite was on display yesterday when a customer attempted to use cash to purchase a money order at one of our stores and was refused. This should not have happened. We have spoken to the customer by phone to apologize. The teammate involved was terminated. I would also like to publicly apologize as well.

The customer visited our store to purchase a money order with a debit card, and showed identification issued by the state of Florida. Due to multiple recent incidents of fraud where subjects were using stolen debit cards and showing out-of-state identification -- most frequently from the state of Florida -- to purchase high-dollar money orders, the customer was asked to use cash to make the purchase instead. Later in the day, the customer complied with the request, when his wife returned to the store with cash. The money order should have been sold to her at that point. It was not.

I deeply apologize to the customers and am incredibly disappointed in the poor judgment that was used in handling this incident. Although the teammate was focused on the recent increase in fraud, once the customer produced cash for the transaction, the money order should have been sold without further issue. I want our customers to feel welcomed and respected in our stores and I sincerely apologize for how our customers were treated in this instance. We have also extended an offer to the customers to meet with them in person to offer our apologies as well.

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