Adidas said it would invest $20 million to support Black communities after facing rising pressure from employees to address racism

Adidas said it would invest $20 million to support Black communities after facing rising pressure from employees to address racism
Adidas plans to invest $20 million into Black communities over the next four years.Edward Berthelot/Getty
  • Adidas says it will invest $20 million into Black American communities over the next four years, a move that comes after reports said employees pushed the sportswear brand to increase its efforts in handling racism.
  • The initiatives include investment into a basketball platform for underserved communities, a curriculum that teaches footwear design, and a program meant to honor the Black community through sport.
  • The retailer's announcement followed a public Instagram post by an Adidas employee, Aric Armon, in which he described the company's handling of an incident in which he said a white coworker called him a racial slur.

After reportedly facing mounting pressure from employees to do more to tackle racism, Adidas on Tuesday announced an investment line of $20 million over the next four years to aid Black American communities.

The German sportswear giant said its investment would be directed toward "Adidas Legacy, a grassroots basketball platform built for underserved communities; the Adidas School for Experiential Education in Design that creates career paths in footwear design; Honoring Black Excellence, an initiative honoring and supporting the Black community through sport."

Over the next five years, the company said it would fund 50 university scholarships a year for Black employees at partner schools.
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The company said it would fill at least 30% of all new positions in the US at Adidas and Reebok with Black and Latino people.

In April, Adidas reported a 19% sales drop to 4.7 billion euros, or $5 billion, for the first quarter as more than 70% of its global store base remained closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company's investment announcement followed a harsh message from one of its employees on social media.
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On Sunday, an Adidas employee named Aric Armon took to Instagram to share a toxic experience in which he said a white colleague called him a version of the N-word and then became violent.

Armon, a footwear designer at the sports brand, said he ultimately punched his colleague in retaliation and was "sent home" for two weeks without any communication from Adidas' human-resources department. He said that he was finally told his behavior violated Adidas' code of conduct and that it was unacceptable to behave in a "violent or threatening manner to others."
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In an interview, Armon told The Wall Street Journal that Adidas hired Black people only to help itself "connect with the Black consumer."

"It really becomes evident that we're just kind of there for our insights and not necessary for leadership," he told The Journal.

Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted said in a statement on Tuesday that the company would try to do more to create a safe environment. "While we have talked about the importance of inclusion, we must do more to create an environment in which all of our employees feel safe, heard and have equal opportunity to advance their careers. As Adidas, we will create a lasting change and we will do it now."
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Recently, the cosmetics giant Estée Lauder also faced rising pressure from its employees to do more to fight racial injustice. In addition, employees called for the ouster of its board member and family heir Ronald Lauder over his support for President Donald Trump.

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