Gucci Issues Guidelines to Deal w/ Angry Customers ... CEO Confesses Blackface Ignorance

2/20/2019 12:10 AM PST

Gucci Issues 'Disruptive Behavior' Protocol, CEO Admits Blackface Ignorance

EXCLUSIVE

As Gucci's blackface controversy rages on, the company's taking steps to make sure it doesn't get any worse ... by training employees how to handle "disruptive behavior."

Gucci sent out an "updated security protocol" playbook -- obtained by TMZ -- to its staff, suggesting ways to deal with protesters or potential troublemakers.

According to the internal memo, Gucci anticipates, "individuals may be coming into our stores to express their concerns or looking for a reaction, and it is important to be extremely cautious, empathetic and focused on de-escalation in the current heightened situation.”

Check out the protocols ... Gucci provides employees a script for different situations and specifically spells out how to approach possible pranksters or people recording video on the premises.

As for the blackface sweater -- Gucci authorizes its workers to apologize on behalf of the company and accept any return of the item ... even if it's past the company policy of 14 days. Any other item purchased more than 14 days ago cannot be returned, however.

The overall the message to employees couldn't be clearer, though -- "ALWAYS FOCUS ON DE-ESCALATION. NEVER ENGAGE IN A VERBAL OR PHYSICAL ALTERCATION WITH A CLIENT."

There's more ... Gucci's CEO, Marco Bizzarri, also sent a letter to employees saying he initially thought the luxury brand's blackface sweater was a minor snafu and people were overreacting.

He insists the mistake was unintentional, though ... and admits in the letter of being ignorant of "the history and significance of blackface."

Bizzarri says the company's going to hire 5 new designers from around the world to fill positions within the Rome design office to increase the company's diversity of perspectives and vows that, "any product that is, or may be perceived as, culturally insensitive does not get to the production stage."