Adidas assures 30% of new US hires will be black or Latino

WASHINGTON: Adidas said Tuesday that 30% of all its new hires in the US would be black or Latino people, amid anti-racism protests that have rocked the country for nearly two weeks.

“The events of the past two weeks have caused all of us to reflect on what we can do to confront the cultural and systemic forces that sustain racism,” said Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted in a statement.

The sportswear giant announced the new measure, among several others, the same day as the funeral of George Floyd, a black man killed in US police custody when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

Floyd’s death, the latest in a long line of unarmed black men being killed by white law enforcement officers, ignited ongoing protests against police brutality and anti-black racism.

Adidas employees had recently criticised the company for not doing enough to combat racial discrimination.

The German-based group also announced that over the next four years, it will increase to US$20 million funding for its programmes that support African Americans – a basketball programme for underserved communities, funding for the Adidas shoe design school and a programme to support the black community through sports.

Adidas also promised to fund 50 scholarships for its black employees each year for the next five years.

The company’s US directors, Zion Armstrong and Matt O’Toole, were to give further details Tuesday during employee meetings in Portland, Oregon and Boston.

Adidas’ promise comes alongside many other businesses committing to fight racism.

“We understand that the fight against racism is one that must be fought continually and actively. We must and will do better,” Adidas said in its statement.

In an unusual move, the Adidas Twitter account recently retweeted an anti-racism ad released by its rival Nike that says, “For once, Don’t Do It. Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America”.

“Together is how we move forward. Together is how we make change,” Adidas wrote in its tweet.