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Adidas human resources boss quits amid racism row

Shoppers wearing face masks walk past an Adidas logo at a shopping mall.Image copyright
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The head of human resources at sportswear giant Adidas has resigned amid a row over the firm’s corporate culture and lack of diversity.

Karen Parkin is a British citizen who had worked at Adidas for more than 20 years.

Her exit follows protests by Adidas staff over a comment she reportedly made at an internal meeting last year.

Global brands face increasing pressure to take action over racial equality after the death of George Floyd.

In a statement issued by the world’s second largest sportswear maker Ms Parkin said that she had always stood against racism and had “decided to retire and pave the way for change.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, earlier this month a group of more than 80 Adidas workers called for an investigation into Ms Parkin’s handling of racism, diversity and inclusion.

Ms Parkin said at a meeting for employees at the headquarters of Adidas brand Reebok last year that the issue of racism was “noise” that was talked about only in the US.

Her resignation is one of the most high profile corporate moves yet as the death of Mr Floyd in May has intensified the focus on the discussion over racism and inequality around the world.

Ms Parkin, who is leaving the role with immediate effect, was the only woman on the company’s board.

More diversity

Her resignation means that the company’s executive board is now made up entirely of white men. Adidas has previously said that it would take action to address issues of diversity and inclusion.

The company has promised to ensure that at least 30% of its new employees in America will come from black or Latino backgrounds.

It also set a target of those groups filling 12% of its US leadership roles within five years.

Adidas is also amongst the growing number of global brands to join the advertiser boycott of social media over their handling of racist content.

The move comes after the Stop Hate For Profit campaign called for companies to pause their Facebook and Instagram advertising for the month of July.

Some firms have gone further and suspended their ads on other platforms.

Adidas did not immediately reply for a request for comment from the BBC.

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