Unfortunately, police brutality is not a new thing. It – along with systemic racism – has existed for hundreds of years. The fashion world, and many other sectors, caught on to the brutal injustice towards Black people this past June with the killing of George Floyd. The murder of an innocent, unarmed Black man (and many Black men and women before and since then) has made people inherently aware of their role in racism, the blind spots in their organizations, and the work that needs to be done to correct broken systems and high barriers of entry.
In June, we saw fashion brands blast big statements, all committing to Black Lives Matter and releasing regretful sentiments of their lack of work to further diversify their organizations. Months down the line from initial statements, we at ULTRA are interested in doing deep dives into the fashion brands who are not just talking about changing their internal systems and hiring processes, but who have actually implemented these practices and are holding true to their word.
The first brand we are happy to report on is adidas. The Germany-based athletic brand, was accused of racism and discrimination by Black employees. Employees protested and demanded change in June and July. Ultimately it led to their Global Human Resource director stepping down and a host of introductions to diversity initiatives. We first saw change when the brand recognized Juneteenth as a company holiday.
adidas then released a public report on their progress of diversity and inclusion targets that they outlined in June. One of their top commitments was to advance hiring and career development and they have since filled 30% of new positions with Black and LatinX employees, and 50% of all positions with diverse talent. By 2025, their goal is to have 12% of leadership positions held by Black and LatinX employees. With their current numbers, they anticipate the percentage to be way higher than 12.
To help reach their wider social justice goals, adidas has teamed up with Beyoncé. They are committing $10 million in the next three years to fund BeyGood (Beyonce’s organization) social programs and initiatives on social justice. To celebrate the partnership, adidas has matched Beyoncé’s $1 million contribution to the NAACP towards Black-owned small businesses.
adidas is also continuing to invest money in its goal of $120 million towards initiatives to end racial injustice and Black communities by 2025. Some of this money will also be used to develop young talent. In collaboration with Reebok, scholarships will be provided to 50 Black and LatinX students at HBCU’s in the amount of $10,000.
As a Black fashion editor, I have hope for the fashion industry but I won’t be naïve to think that a few diversity initiatives will solve everything. I am, however, happy to see a step in the right direction.
Photo via adidas