Although Adidas’ marketing campaign has included collaborations with celebrities such as Beyonce, Kanye West, and Pharrell, a 2019 news article indicates that only 4.5% of Adidas’ nearly 1,700 employees identify as black, while 78% identify as white. The Times interviewed former and current employees of Adidas who said that the lack of diversity at Adidas has led to the creation of a discriminatory working environment, leaving some employees feeling marginalized.
One example cited by The Times was that black employees will often sit together in the cafeteria. Some black employees were reportedly told that this made white employees “nervous,” and that it might hurt the chances of those black employees getting a promotion if they were perceived as not fitting the “Adidas mold.”
An Adidas spokesperson said that the company had recently expanded its diversity and inclusion team in an effort to focus on underrepresented communities. The spokesperson stated that the company’s strategy “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 that.”
Still, employees have voiced concerns about Adidas’ commitment to diversity. One employee wrote a letter to Adidas’ US president, saying that North America senior leaders “ostracize people of color and cultivate a high school ‘clique’ environment.”
Some black employees also voiced concerns to The Times that they are often the only black employee in a meeting and feel that their input is not always valued. These employees have also pointed out that without including a diverse range of people and voices, Adidas may see negative stereotypes edge their way into marketing campaigns, such as when Adidas released a line of all-white sneakers that was supposed to commemorate Black History Month. Adidas pulled the line of shoes after receiving backlash.
Adidas’ US headquarters is located in Portland, Oregon.
If you believe you have been discriminated against or harassed because of your race or faced retaliation for filing a complaint of employment discrimination because of your race, please consider contacting the lawyers at the Bullman Law Firm. We represent workers, not employers. Our number is (503) 714-9311. There is no charge for your call.