Ursula Burns to Corporate America: You can undo the system

Adidas employees want the company to investigate with the Human Resources Chief to respond to ethnic issues

A letter sent to three of the adidas executives on June 15 is required to ask the company’s supervisory board to examine whether Adidas company (Adidas performed) Human Resources President Karen Parken has appropriately responded to ethnic issues within the company, according to a copy obtained by CNN Business. The letter was signed by 83 employees from five of the company’s offices in Germany, the United States, Australia, and Panama. The sportswear giant employs approximately 60,000 people worldwide.

The letter also calls for the creation of an anonymous platform where employees can report cases of racism and discrimination, and protect against retaliation.

“Our employees bravely raised their voices to those in positions of authority; they demanded the fact that we are not representatives of the societies we benefit from and we lack the leadership, operations, and goals that will enable us to get there,” reads the message.

The letter also requests the company’s supervisory board “to investigate whether we have the correct approach and behavior from (our HR Officer) to address this issue in Adidas”. She adds that employees believe that “it is important that our approach to these issues be along the lines of our highest levels of leadership, especially in the field of human resources where its goal is the health and performance of the organization.”

Adidas, which owns Reebok, said in a statement that He “rejects all statements” in the employee’s speech. The company He said last week It has a zero-tolerance policy of retaliation, and it has created a third-party investigator to ensure adherence to this policy.

“Adidas and Reebok have always been and will always remain against discrimination in all its forms, and we stand united against racism,” the company said in a statement to CNN. “Our black employees led the response that we will continue to implement together and that we committed to as a company. We are now focusing our efforts on making progress and real change instantly.”

Parkin is a long-time employee and has worked as head of global human resources for more than three years, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story. However, Adidas said that Parkin is currently working with a consortium of employees on the company’s global diversity and merger obligations.

In a statement released to Adidas employees last week, Parken said: “You have all seen our announcements over the past few days that define what we are committed to confronting the cultural and systemic forces that maintain racism.” “We know that we must do more to create an environment in which everyone feels safe, listen and have equal opportunities to advance in your career.”

After few days Staff protests About company culture, Adidas announced last week that it is taking Several procedures aim In increasing the number of people of color in the workforce in North America, and making the workplace more inclusive. These include An investment of $ 120 million in black communities and a commitment to fill at least 30% of new jobs In North America with black or Latino employees. The company also condemned racism and expressed support for the “black life” movement On social media.
Many companies have taken similar actions in recent weeks amid The moment of national reckoning over racial injustice was sparked by the death of George Floyd.
“We had to look at ourselves as individuals and our organization and think about systems that harm and silence the residents of black individuals and communities,” Casper Roerstedt, Adidas CEO He said In a statement last week. “While we talked about the importance of integration, we must do more to create an environment in which all of our employees feel safe and listen and have equal opportunities to advance their careers.”
Adidas says that at least 30% of new US jobs will be filled by black or Latino

The company also admitted in a declaration last week that its procedures may be “too little, too late”.

“We celebrated the athletes and artists in the black community and used their image to culturally identify ourselves as a brand, but we missed the message in reflecting this small representation within our walls,” the company statement said.

Some Adidas employees believe the company’s procedures are Insufficient. They are appealing to the leadership to make an explicit apology for racism within the company and to be transparent about the additional steps it plans to take.

The letter says: “All of the trademark obligations to date are a change in symptoms, and a failure to identify and expose the reason why our employees continue to experience racism and discrimination.” A public apology and recognition are required as a start to anti-racism work and are the basis for any of our “actions” where the company can effectively land.

At a company meeting in Boston last year, Parkin claimed that racism was a “noise” only discussed in America, The Wall Street Journal mentioned last week.

In her statement to employees this week, Parken said she “had to choose a better word” during the meeting and apologized if she offended anyone.

“As a member of the Executive Council responsible for human resources, it was my responsibility to clarify our final position against discrimination, and this is what I did not do,” said Parkin. “My team and I are fully committed to improving our corporate culture to ensure fairness, diversity and opportunity. This is a promise. This is my promise.”

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