Just days after adidas employees threatened to protest the company’s racist inner workings, they’ve begun to do so at the company’s US headquarters in Portland, Oregon.
Julie Bond, a designer at the German-born athletic company, said last week in a letter that the company took a stand against racism and oppression after the killing of George Floyd led to nationwide protests. However, the outward message was not internally reflected at the companies corporate office. Since then, Bond spoke to High Snobiety about her experience of what it’s like to be a Black woman at the company.
“It’s a very peculiar experience to be Black and work at adidas,” said Bond. “You see images of yourself all around the brand, and it’s very outward-facing Black. But inward-facing, it’s very white.”
Though diversity is a hot topic now because of the climate, this isn’t the first time adidas has had issues with its office demographic. Just last year The New York Times reported that only 4.5% of adidas employees identified as Black– which is a minimal number when you realize how influential Black culture is on athletic brands.
Bond recounts issues and tone-deaf moments she encounters at work like the time she received a creative brief from a Vice President that that had an image of a white man on a skateboard wearing the confederate flag.
“Looking at that image on that day was really painful because it let me know — as the only Black employee on the team — that nobody caught it and nobody spoke up and said it was wrong,” Bond says. “My ancestors had to die because people waved that flag, and it’s filled with so much hate and so much oppression toward Black people. I started crying; you shouldn’t be made to feel this way at work.”
Bond wasn’t the only person who felt disrespected; designer Aric Armon, who has worked there for 7 years, explains that even during town hall meetings, their complaints often went unheard.
“The issue is really coming from a different angle because the higher-ups don’t seem to really try and educate themselves,” Ture says. “The very head of HR does not see how she has basically executed her white privilege and silenced people of color with her racist statements.”