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Adidas HR chief resigns after black workers criticise company for racism

Tom Shearsmith
01 July 2020

Karen Parkin, Head of Global Human Resources at footwear brand Adidas has resigned, following criticism from employees of the company's failure to diversify its workforce and deal with racial reports appropriately.

Her resignation comes after a group of Black employees called on Adidas´ supervisory board to investigate her strategy for addressing racial issues in the workplace.

The employees are also asking Adidas to create an anonymous public channel to submit any problems about racism, going forward.

The demands from Black employees were reported by The Wall Street Journal in mid-June.

Parkin was also a member of the executive board and had been with the company for 23 years, first joining the company in 1997 as a UK sales director. Since that time, she has held a number of positions at the company across customer service, business development, supply chain and human resources.

Adidas said in a statement that its CEO Kasper Rorsted will assume responsibility for Global Human Resources on an interim basis until a suitable successor found and appointed.

Igor Landau, Chairman of the company's supervisory board, said: "Her decision to leave the company reflects that commitment and her belief that a new HR leader will best drive forward the pace of change that Adidas needs at this time."

In a letter sent to employees and seen by The New York Times, Parkin acknowledged she had lost the trust of Adidas employees.

"While I would very much like to lead this critical transformation effort, after much reflection and listening to the feedback I've received, I have come to accept that I am not the right person to lead that change," she wrote.

"While I have always stood 100% against racism and discrimination and worked to create a more equitable environment, I recognise that the focus on me has become a hindrance inhibiting the company from moving forward."

After facing protests from its employees against internal racism, Adidas has pledged to hire more black staff and invest in more university scholarships for black employees.

Adidas has also pledged $120 million to Black communities.

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