The anonymous letter depicts a workplace culture laden with bullying, racial tension, and inequity. It described it as, "a culture that embodies the opposite of inclusivity, rooted in personal relationships, racial bias and not necessarily on experience or qualifications."
Select leadership at the office is even referred to by certain employees as "The Mafia." Three employees who chose to remain anonymous as well confirmed these accusations to The Oregonian.
At least one example of this culture is the recent departure of former general manager of global basketball Kris Aman—one of the highest-ranking black executives with Adidas North America—this past September. Aman's role was filled by a white man, which left certain employees uneasy. Aman was believed to be wrapped up in the NCAA corruption scandal that rocked the company last year and ended in former employees Jim Gatto and Merl Code being convicted on federal fraud charges.
"Recent situations and departures at Adidas call into question—if you don’t look the part, if you don’t conform to the ‘Adidas way’ you are not protected," read the letter. "This situation could be perceived as Adidas exploiting and taking advantage of people from diverse backgrounds with no authentic intention (i.e. culture vultures)."
Adidas has issued the following statement in response: "We are committed to maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment for all Adidas employees around the world. 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. We continually evaluate and strengthen our programs and policies to ensure we are recruiting, retaining and advancing a diverse team. We have a North America diversity strategy to help bring new employees from diverse backgrounds to positions at the company’s corporate headquarters. We are expanding our Diversity and Inclusion team in North America to focus on underrepresented communities in our workforce; and we conduct ongoing workplace inclusion training for employees across North America. While we have made progress in these areas, we recognize there is more to be done."
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