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Sprint’s CEO’s response to customer’s racist tirade against Latino serves as model for others

By Marisa Treviño

The retail mantra “the customer is always right” is a golden rule that retail stores have bent over backwards to accommodate since the beginning of retail but with more aggressive customers verbally abusing staff and other customers some CEOs realize they can afford to lose a little business.

The most recent story started circulating late Sunday night. A white female nail biter obviously didn’t feel comfortable visiting one particular Sprint store in Manassas, Virginia. Speaking to someone on her phone loud enough that other customers heard her, she told the person on the other end that she was in the “ghetto.”

When a fellow customer, who was Latino, offered a suggestion to another store she let loose a ‘ghetto’ tirade against the guy using foul and abusive language.

This could have been the end of the story had someone not videotaped the entire incident. The blatantly racist behavior of this woman has enraged many — including the CEO of Sprint, Marcelo Claure, who happens to be of Bolivian descent.

The following is the response from Sprint’s CEO to the racist rant that took place in his store.

Racism Has No Place At Sprint

By Marcelo Claure

President & CEO, Sprint

This weekend a customer at a dealer store in Manassas, Virginia, insulted another customer by using profane, threatening and ugly language.

A video of the exchange was posted to Twitter and has been viewed by millions. I and thousands of my Sprint colleagues were disgusted by what we saw.

This behavior violates a fundamental Sprint value of treating everyone with respect.

Unfortunately, we’re seeing an increase in hate speech like this across the country. No one deserves to hear this kind of language.

This has got to stop. It’s time to talk. It’s time to learn. It’s time to heal.

That’s why I’m inviting this woman and her husband to meet privately with me so I can better understand what drives comments and behavior like this. I’d like to share my views with her as well.

I also invite the customer she attacked, Juan, to meet with me.

This kind of behavior is not tolerated in any Sprint workplace. We value our diverse customer base and thousands of minority employees. We will confront head-on those who violate the respect that our customers and employees deserve.

We’ve worked hard at Sprint to create and maintain a welcoming, respectful and diverse culture. My 30,000 employees join me in standing up for our core values and not tolerating such inappropriate behavior. We will not compromise our principles by allowing divisive or hateful language to go unchecked in our stores or offices.


Mr. Claure’s quick response and outreach serves as a model of what leaders across the country, from business to politics to the White House, should do in response to this ongoing national trend among truly “deplorable” people — Denounce, Discuss and Defend.

Denounce the classless, racist, abusive behavior for what it is.

Discuss it with employees, the parties involved and with the larger public. Discussions enlighten everyone to how unacceptable this kind of behavior is in a civilized setting.

Defend the common sense of decency that in the past has governed how civilized people treat one another.

Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is becoming more common. We can only hope that more CEOs are like Mr. Claure and speak out against it.  After all, no society ‘profits’ when there’s no respect among its citizens.

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