In a letter addressed to first-year Adidas North America President Zion Armstrong, an employee of the brand "purporting to speak on behalf of minorities at the company urged the new leader to 'diversify representation' in the firm’s upper ranks, alleging racial and ethnic tensions at the brand," according to Sheena Butler-Young of FOOTWEAR NEWS. The letter stated, “Internal hallway chatter has coined (North America) leadership and a group of select individuals as the 'Mafia.' The assumption is that this nickname is not playful in nature and represents a culture that embodies the opposite of inclusivity, rooted in personal relationships, racial bias and not necessarily on experience or qualifications.” In the days since the letter was "purportedly routed to Armstrong," sources said that "white leaders at the German athletic brand’s Portland, Ore., headquarters have failed to promote and treat people of color fairly." Adidas in a statement said that it is “committed to maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment for all Adidas employees around the world." The statement continued, "It’s crucial that we have and support a diverse workforce that represents a variety of ideas, strengths, interests and cultural backgrounds. We value all of our employees, are stronger because of their unique perspectives and are dedicated to achieving greater diversity at every level of the company" (FOOTWEARNEWS.com, 11/9).
CHALLENGES AHEAD AT UA? In Baltimore, Lorraine Mirabella wrote Under Armour is positioning itself to "stand up to scrutiny of the #MeToo movement." The company "found itself the subject of unwanted attention last week after it was disclosed employees were allowed to charge strip club visits and other adult entertainment to expense accounts." N.Y.-based GlobalData Managing Dir Neil Saunders said that UA Founder, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank's leadership "could be in jeopardy if problems are not remedied fairly quickly." He said, “Where you have a very strong figure at the top of the company while things are going well, that’s fine, but when it is associated with negative behavior, that becomes risky. They obviously need to look at the internal culture and take steps pretty quickly to remedy that" (BALTIMORE SUN, 11/9).