The director of human resources is accused by employees of minimizing the problems of racism in the company.
Adidas on Wednesday (June 17) dismissed accusations by employees in the United States pointing to racial problems in their workplace, a week after it promised more diversity in new hires.
A group of 83 employees in the United States has asked the supervisory board of the German sports equipment manufacturer to investigate human resources director Karen Parkin for minimising racism issues in the company.
They are also calling for the creation of an anonymous public platform for filing complaints of racism, Adidas told AFP, confirming information from the Wall Street Journal.
Corporate culture denounced
Some of the company’s black American employees told the newspaper that the corporate culture of the German company was far from fair.
« We firmly reject all the statements made in the letter to the supervisory board, » the company reacted in a statement sent to AFP on Wednesday.
At an employee meeting last year at the Reebok subsidiary’s Boston headquarters, Karen Parkin had described racism as a « noise » only discussed in the United States and a problem that the group’s brands would not encounter, the WSJ reported.
60,000 employees worldwide
On 12 June, however, Karen Parkin, a member of the management board, apologized in an intranet message where she felt she should have « chosen a better word » at the meeting at Reebok, according to a message seen by AFP.
« Adidas and Reebok have always been and will always be against discrimination in all its forms and we are united against racism,» Adidas’s statement said on Wednesday.
The company, which employs 60,000 people worldwide, including 10,000 in the United States, said it already offers a telephone platform to receive complaints about compliance issues ( « Fair Play Hotline » in internal language) and an external ombudsman who responds to staff grievances, according to a spokeswoman.
Black Community Support Programs
« We are now focusing our efforts on making progress and creating real change immediately,» the company promises on Wednesday.
On June 10, Adidas announced that 30 percent of new hires in the United States will be black or Latin American.
The German group also announced that it would increase to $20 million, over the next four years, the amounts it devotes to support programs for the black community in the United States.
These announcements come against the backdrop of anti-racist demonstrations across the country since the murder in late May of George Floyd, a black man who was asphyxiated by a white policeman while handcuffed.