Adidas Appoints New HR Chief Following Employee Complaints Over Racism

Adidas has appointed a new head of human resources after employee complaints over racism at the firm led Karen Parkin, former global head of HR, to exit in June.

The Germany-based sportswear giant tapped Amanda Rajkumar to lead the HR department starting next year. The new exec joins the team from French bank BNP Paribas, where she most recently served in the same role for its Americas division. She also previously worked for JPMorgan for nearly a decade in various senior HR management positions. She started her career in 1993 as a research psychologist.

“Adidas has a prominent and rich history in this extraordinary industry and has already accomplished so much but can still achieve so much more,” Rajkumar said in a statement. “The talent and creativity within the firm speaks for itself, and I cannot wait to immerse myself in the employee base and culture. With the company’s core values aligned to my own, I am thrilled about the opportunity to help shape and define the future of Adidas.”

What’s more, the 48-year-old British national will join the company’s board of directors, where she will be responsible for global human resources.

“Amanda Rajkumar is a true HR professional,” added Thomas Rabe, chairman of Adidas’ supervisory board. “Her longstanding expertise in human resources and her profound understanding of people care and inclusion will be an excellent addition to the executive board and Adidas. I am delighted that the executive board is complete again and that Adidas can start the new year with full strength.”

Rajkumar’s appointment comes just over four months after Parkin stepped down from her post after 23 years at the athletic apparel and accessories firm. Her resignation followed weeks of unrest at the company that stemmed from yearslong challenges surrounding its diversity and inclusion efforts — amplified by the death of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide tensions over racial equality in the United States.

In early June, a 13-member coalition representing more than 200 Adidas employees had cited comments Parkin made last year, when she was said to have described concerns over racial disparities as “noise” and suggested the company did not need to take action as the criticisms were present only in the brand’s North America offices. An internal memo sent to staffers in the middle of that month showed Parkin expressing regret for her commentary; she said that she should have chosen a “better word” in describing how the company “viewed issues of race.”

Following Parkin’s departure, Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted had assumed responsibility for the department on an interim basis.

“Adidas is one of the most popular employers worldwide and diversity characterizes Adidas like few other companies. We not only want to maintain this position, we want to strengthen it and make adidas a truly diverse, inclusive, people-driven and equitable company,” he said in a statement about the new HR hire. “I am confident that, with Amanda Rajkumar in this important leadership role and the continued strong commitment and dedication of our nearly 60,000 employees, we will succeed in doing so.”

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