Pharrell Adidas EFI track jacket

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: In the wake of a New York Times article that highlighted the lack of diversity at Adidas’ North American headquarters in Portland, Ore., the athletic company acknowledged “there is much more work to be done, and we are committed to doing it.”

The extensive article noted there are three black people among the roughly 340 Adidas vice presidents internationally. There are 75 black employees at Adidas’ 1,700-person head office in North America. Twenty current and former black employees said the corporate culture contradicts the brand’s image which is reliant on such high-profile personalities as Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and James Harden.

In a statement, Adidas said, “We are committed to fostering a respectful, equitable, and inclusive environment for all Adidas employees around the world. It’s crucial that we have and support a diverse workforce that represents a variety of ideas, strengths, interests and backgrounds and that we promote an open culture where all of our people can fully contribute. We value all of our employees, are stronger because of their unique perspectives and are dedicated to achieving greater diversity at every level of the company.”

“We actively evaluate and seek to strengthen our programs and policies to ensure we are recruiting, retaining and advancing a diverse team. Recently, we have expanded our Diversity and Inclusion team in North America to focus on underrepresented communities in our workforce across the talent lifecycle; and we conduct ongoing workplace inclusion education and training for employees across North America. Our North American diversity strategy also includes programs to help bring new employees from diverse backgrounds to positions at the company’s corporate headquarters. While we have made progress in these areas, we recognize there is much more to be done, and we are committed to doing it.”

The Adidas spokeswoman declined to comment when asked if there was anything in the article that the company is challenging or disputing.

On another front, Harlem’s Fashion Row announced this morning that it has partnered with Nike for a three-day fashion retreat to support emerging designers of color. Scheduled for June 27-29 in New York, the event will welcome 75 designers of color from across the U.S. Dapper Dan, who has been integral in helping Gucci to repair its marketing image after racially sensitive incidents, will participate along with executives from Nike and Intermix, as well as other companies. Networking, how to build a successful brand, managing production, selecting a top stylist and getting influencers to notice your brand are among the topics to be discussed. The retreat will wrap up with a cocktail party at Gap’s headquarters.

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