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Adidas HR Head Quits After Racism Outcry

Exec says Karen Parkin described racism complaints as 'noise'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2020 12:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – The head of global human resources at Adidas has stepped down after acknowledging she has lost the trust of employees pushing for a more diverse workforce. "While I would very much like to lead this critical transformation effort, after much reflection and listening to the feedback I’ve received, I have come to accept that I am not the right person to lead that change," Karen Parkin said in a letter to employees seen by the New York Times. Her resignation follows protests from employees at the company's North American headquarters in Portland, Ore., over discrimination issues and remarks that Parkin, who is British, made during an all-employee meeting at Adidas subsidiary Reebok last year.

In an open letter, Reebok exec Aaron Ture said he raised concerns about the Adidas Group's treatment of people of color at the meeting, and Parkin said something along the lines of: "This is noise we only hear in North America," and "I do not believe there is an issue, so I do not feel the need to answer this question." He said he was unable to quote her word-for-word because the company failed to share its recording of the meeting. "It has become clear to me that, to unify the organization, it would be better for me to retire and pave the way for change," Parkin said Tuesday, per CBS. (In mid-June, Adidas said it was time to "own up to its silence" and pledged to step up its hiring of people of color.)

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