A group of Adidas employees asked the company to investigate its chief human resources officer, Karen Parkin, over allegations she has not appropriately responded to issues of racism at the shoe and clothing giant.
In a letter to executives, 83 employees from five of the company’s offices in Germany, the United States, Australia, and Panama asked the company’s supervisory board to “investigate whether we have the right approach and behavior from our (chief human resources officer) to tackle this issue within Adidas.”
“Our employees have courageously raised their voices to people in positions of power; they have called out the fact that we are not representative of the communities we profit from and we lack the leadership, processes, and goals that will enable us to get there,” the letter said.
Employees also called for protections against retaliation and for the company to create an anonymous platform where employees can report instances of racism and discrimination.
In a statement, Adidas said it “rejects all statements” in the letter.
“Adidas and Reebok have always been and will always be against discrimination in all forms and we stand united against racism,” the company said in a statement to CNN. “Our black employees have led the response that we will continue to implement together and that we have committed to as a company. We are now concentrating our efforts on making progress and creating real change immediately.”
Last year, during a company meeting, Parking reportedly said that racism was “noise” and was only talked about in America.
“As the executive board member responsible for HR, it was my responsibility to make clear our definitive stance against discrimination, and this I did not,” Parkin said in a statement to employees. “My team and I are fully committed to improve our company culture to ensure equity, diversity and opportunity. That’s a promise. That is my promise.”
Last week the company announced it was investing $120 million in black communities and a committing to fill at least 30% of new positions in North America with black or Latinx employees. It has also expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement on social media.
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