Adidas executive who called concern about racism 'noise' steps down

Adidas executive who called concern about racism 'noise' steps down
© Spencer Platt/Getty Images

An Adidas executive stepped down on Tuesday after calling concerns about the treatment of racism and LGBTQ issues within the company “noise” last year.

Adidas announced that Karen Parkin, the head of human resources, would leave the company after 23 years and would step down from its executive board after a mutual agreement with the supervisory board. Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted will handle Parkin’s responsibilities until a replacement is found.

“I am deeply committed to our goals of creating a more diverse, inclusive and equitable company,” Parkin said in a statement. “While we have made progress in many areas, there is much more work to be done. However, it has become clear to me that to unify the organization it would be better for me to retire and pave the way for change.”

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The company’s release did not address a letter to the supervisory board sent by 83 employees asking that it investigate Parkin’s handling of racial issues within the company. The Wall Street Journal first reported the letter about two weeks ago.

Parkin, the only woman on Adidas’s six-person executive board since 2017, issued an apology this month for her comments, saying she did not make the company’s stance against discrimination clear, Reuters reported

In a letter sent to employees, Parkin said the attention to her comments has “become a hindrance” for the company.

“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, according to The New York Times

Adidas has pledged this month to invest $120 million in Black communities in the U.S. and ensure the company hires Black and Latino people for at least 30 percent of new U.S. jobs, among other initiatives.

“Going forward, I remain focused on working with my Executive Board colleagues and our leadership team to continue our momentum in Human Resources and to build a more diverse and inclusive adidas,” Rorsted said in Tuesday’s release.

Companies are vowing to support and fund racial and social justice movements in response to the protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.