Adidas AG’s Global Human Resources Chief, Karen Parkin resigned following criticism from Black employees who said the German sportswear giant has done too little to promote diversity.
Parkin's exit follows protests by Adidas staff over a comment she reportedly made at an internal meeting last year. This is in recognition that she’s not the ‘right person to lead’ the company’s efforts to create a more diverse workplace, according to a letter she wrote to employees that was seen by a media house.
Parkin is leaving by mutual agreement with the supervisory board, the company said in a note Tuesday. She has led the global HR department since 2014. Adidas Chief Executive Officer Kasper Rorsted will assume her role until a successor is found.
“I know that there is still much work to be done to create the culture and company that we aspire to become,” Parkin wrote in the letter. “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.”
Parkin added that she has “always stood 100% against racism and discrimination and worked to create a more equitable environment,” but recognizes that “the focus on me has become a hindrance inhibiting the company from moving forward.”
Adidas and other companies are confronting issues of racism more than ever before following the mass demonstrations that began after the death of George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis in late May.
Parkin came under fire last year for characterizing employee concerns over racial disparities at the company as “noise,” Footwear News reported June 12. That comment came at a Reebok meeting in Boston in response to a question about reports that the company was struggling in its treatment of minority employees. Parkin suggested there was no need to take action because the criticisms were only happening in North America, Footwear News reported.
Three days after that story was published, some employees called on Adidas’s supervisory board to investigate whether Parkin had been handling issues of race properly, the Wall Street Journal reported June 17.
Parkin, who has citizenship in both the U.K. and U.S., said in her letter Tuesday that travel restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic have made it “almost impossible” for her to balance work and private life. Her home is in Portland, Oregon, and her office is at the company headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
Image source Forbes