Adidas Profitable Culture Clout Chase Weighs On Black Employees
By Justin Moore
Adidas grossed almost $24B globally in 2018
The Kanye inspired Yeezy’s are expected to gross $1.3B in 2019 alone
Adidas (ADDYY +3.49%) has had a presence in Black culture since Run-D.M.C. put on a pair of shell toes, but the multinational athletics brand isn’t keeping that same energy when it comes to hiring executives. Although approximately 55% of its U.S. employees, including hourly retail workers are persons of color, only 5% of workers at its North American headquarters fall into the aforementioned category, and less than 1% of its global vice presidents are Black.
Why This Matters: Despite Adidas’ affiliation with Black athletes and entertainers ranging from James Harden and Damian Lillard to Kanye and Beyonce, choosing to have these celebrities as the public face of the brand isn’t translating into advancement opportunities for Black employees and the problems don’t stop there. Celebrity partnerships like the one with Kanye West has proven to be very lucrative for Adidas. The Kanye inspired Yeezy’s are expected to gross $1.3 billion in 2019 alone and last year the company grossed almost $24 billion globally.
However, Black employees at Adidas’ North American HQ have blown the whistle on a culture where they feel marginalized and subject to unfair criticism for socializing at lunch with other Black employees. “Why do all the Black kids sit together at lunch?” is making a comeback.
While the company has acknowledged that it still has a way to go to make its Portland North American HQ more diverse and inclusive, they have also cited the racial makeup of Portland as a cause for the disparity.
Situational Awareness: Adidas is certainly not the only brand facing this challenge as companies throughout corporate America, including Nike (NKE -0.08%) and Under Armour (UA +0.96%), but few are as ingrained in hip-hop culture as Adidas. If brands like Adidas that rely on the clout of Black culture to propel their products into the mainstream refuse to address their lack of diversity in positions of power, what hope is there for the average Fortune 500?
CBx Vibe: “My Adidas” Run-D.M.C.