On Tuesday, the Adidas board addressed recent employee outcry alleging a pervasive lack of diversity and representation.
“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,” CEO Kasper Rorsted wrote. “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.”
While Adidas has talked about the importance of inclusion, it must do more to facilitate an environment that benefits all of its employees, making them feel safe and heard while giving them equal opportunity to advance their careers, Rorsted wrote.
Adidas will immediately take three measures to begin to address these issues, he added.
The company has committed to investing $20 million in black communities across the U.S. over the next four years. Initiatives benefiting from that investment will include Adidas Legacy, a grassroots basketball program for underserved communities, the Adidas School for Experiential Education in Design, which enables career paths in footwear design for emerging artists, and Honoring Black Excellence, which supports the black community through sports-related initiatives.
Adidas will also invest in university scholarships for black employees, Rorsted wrote. The company will finance 50 scholarships annually for the next five years, helping black students access education at Adidas’ partner schools.
Finally, the company addressed the lack of diversity within its corporate walls, and vowed to increase the number of employees of color. A minimum of 30 percent of all new positions in the U.S. at both Adidas and Reebok will be filled by black and Latino candidates. And, Rorsted said, the company will announce a target aimed at increasing black and Latino representation within its broader North American workforce.
Adidas North America president Zion Armstrong and Reebok North America president Matt O’Toole have been working in partnership with employees in recent weeks to solidify their strategy, and the two leaders are slated to provide more details at town hall meetings on Wednesday in Portland and Boston, Rorsted added.
“We recognize the immense contribution of the Black community to our success and that of others,” Rorsted wrote, promising to improve the company’s culture and ensure racial equity and diversity, along with new opportunities.
“We understand that the fight against racism is one that must be fought continually and actively,” he added. “We must and will do better.”