The call for widespread change following of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police spilled into the sneaker world last Friday, with Adidas employees staging an ongoing protest in response to what was described as "consistent complacency in taking active steps against a racist work environment" by Adidas Originals Assistant Apparel Director Julia Bond.
The brand issued a statement in response later that day, saying it "has always been and will always be against discrimination in all forms and stands against racism." Now, Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted is speaking up on behalf of the company, along with detailing three specific actions the brand plans to enact immediately.
"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," Rorsted said in the statement, issued yesterday. "As Adidas, we will create a lasting change and we will do it now.”
To back up the statement, Rorsted and Adidas pledge to invest $20 million into Black communities in the U.S. over the next four years. Over the next five years, Adidas says it will provide 50 scholarships a year for its Black employees. Furthermore, the brand will also increase its number of Black employees, with a minimum of 30 percent of new Adidas and Reebok hires in the U.S. being Black and Latinx.
However, Adidas and Rorsted's words have reportedly done little to appease the 200-plus group of employees currently engaging in protest against the company. According to Footwear News, which originally broke the news of the protest, an anonymous employee is calling the brand's response "laughable" and says the protest will continue. The source adds that a number of unnamed retail accounts are supporting the group's stance.
In Bond's original note to Adidas, she and her fellow employees requested that the brand issue a formal apology "for the racism and discrimination that they have openly enabled and perpetuated." Rorsted's statement is not only devoid of an apology, but the brand's pledge of $20 million doesn't meet the $30 million ask from protestors. The unnamed source tells Footwear News that employees were also upset with the fact that no Black executives were called upon to help strategize the brand's response.
Sole Collector has reached out to Adidas for a comment on this latest development.
UPDATE (06/10): Per a new report from Footwear News, Adidas has increased its $20 million donation to $120 million. The update was reportedly announced to employees this morning at the brand's North American headquarters in Portland. Despite this, it's said that the brand has yet to issue an apology, which one was one the demands made by employees engaging in the protest.