Adidas rejects investigating HR chief in race row

BERLIN (Reuters) - Adidas declined on Wednesday an appeal from employees to investigate the German HR brand’s chief of staff for dealing with racism in the company after calling it “noise” last year, which was only discussed in America.
An Adidas spokeswoman said she strongly rejected statements in a letter of 83 employees received from the Wall Street Journal and asked the board to investigate Karen Parkins' approach to racial issues in the workplace.
The spokeswoman said Parkin has apologized for the comments in a statement to employees and is working with a coalition on the company's global commitments to diversity and inclusion.
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"Our black employees gave the answer, which we will continue to implement together and which we as a company have committed to," said the spokeswoman.
In Parkin's statement, the hiring manager admitted that at a meeting at the Reebok brand in Boston last year, she hadn't clarified the company's stance on discrimination when she commented on concerns about racism as "noise."
"I should have chosen a better word ... If I offended someone, I apologize," she said.
Parkin, who is a UK and US citizen, was appointed to the Adidas executive team in 2017. This was the first woman to take over the top management of the company in 1993.
In the employee letter cited by the journal, Adidas was also asked to create a public platform where people can submit anonymous complaints about racism.
Adidas said there had long been a hotline where employees could submit reports. It said last week that it would hire an outside investigator to monitor a zero tolerance policy against racism and set up a council to ensure action on the issue.
After in-depth consultation with black employees, Adidas committed last week to invest $ 20 million in the black community in the U.S. and to ensure that at least 30% of all new jobs in the U.S. are filled with black and Latin American people.
Companies around the world have committed to fund racist and social justice amid global protests against the death of George Floyd, an African American who died after a white Minneapolis policeman kneeled his neck.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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