Days after Adidas was criticized by some of its black employees for its lack of support of them and the greater community, the activewear group said it will invest $20 million in programs that support the community.
The investment, which will be put into place over the next four years in the U.S., is one of several initiatives the Adidas board of directors unveiled Tuesday. Financing 50 university scholarships for black employees over the next five years and hiring more black employees are also on the agenda. At least 30 percent of all new positions nationwide for Adidas and Reebok will be filled with black and Latino people. The company also plans to reveal a target to increase representation of black and Latinx people within its workforce in North America.
Last week, Adidas came under fire from employees for not doing enough. In response to that call for action, Adidas North America president Zion Armstrong and Reebok Brands’ president Matt O’Toole met with black employees at both companies to figure out which direction to take, according to information provided by Adidas. Employees at both athletic brands will get a better idea of what’s in store Wednesday when virtual town hall meetings are expected to be held in Portland, Ore., and in Boston, the respective domestic home cities for Adidas and Reebok.
In a statement released Tuesday, Adidas chief executive officer Kasper Rorsted cited how the events of the past two weeks have caused “all of us to reflect on what we can do to confront the cultural and systemic forces that sustain racism. We have had to look inward to ourselves as individuals and our organization and reflect on systems that disadvantage and silence black individuals and communities.”
Rorsted continued, “While we have talked about the importance of inclusion, we must do more to create an environment in which all of our employees feel safe, heard and have equal opportunity to advance their careers. As Adidas, we will create a lasting change and we will do it now.”
In a matter of days, a coalition formed by Adidas employees seeking substantial changes within the company grew from 13 to more than 100, as first reported by WWD’s sister publication Footwear News.
Adidas publicly responded to employees’ criticism on June 5, acknowledging that “we have not done enough and we’re dedicated to doing more.” At that time, the company said it was working with its employee resource group Progressive Soles and black leaders to draft a plan. Having leaders in the North American and global headquarters and offering employees 200 percent matching donations to support groups that fight racism were other initial actions that were taken last week.
Various athletic and fashion companies have been stepping up in recent days with strategies to support the black community. Adidas’ rival Nike revealed a $40 million commitment over the next four years to support the black community across the U.S. In addition, former NBA legend Michael Jordan and his Jordan brand will invest $100 million over the next 10 years to organizations that fight racism.