adidas' Head of Human Resources Departs After Employee Complaints

Karen Parkin retired in light of questionable statements made last year.

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Footwear 
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adidasmulti-million “investment in the black community” may be a positive step forward for the German sportswear behemoth, but for some employees, it wasn’t enough. Karen Parkin, the company’s global head of human resources, has now retired in light of complaints made by adidas staff. The Wall Street Journal reports that Parkin announced her departure in a memo to staff.

A group of adidas employees levied complaints against the company’s supervisory board in June, asking for an investigation into statements made by Parkin regarding racial issues in the workplace. The letter touched on an all-employee meeting in 2019 held at the Boston headquarters of adidas-owned Reebok, wherein Parkin reportedly said that adidas didn’t have an issue with racism and that the subject was “noise” discussed exclusively in America.

In response to the concerns voiced by staff, adidas initially responded to say that “we strongly reject all statements made in the letter to the supervisory board.” On June 12, however, Parkin said she “should have chosen a better word” during the meeting. “It was my responsibility to make clear our definitive stance against discrimination, and this I did not. Should I have offended anyone, I apologize,” she continued. Employees weren’t placated and demanded a more earnest apology.

“I have decided to retire and pave the way for change,” Parkin said in the internal memo announcing her retirement. It was viewed by The Wall Street Journal to confirm the document’s veracity. Later in the note, Parkin affirmed her stance against racism, explaining that “I recognize that the focus on me has become a hindrance inhibiting the company from moving forward.”

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