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FN’s Upcoming Virtual Discussion Will Look At How Brands Should Respond to the Race Conversation

Following protests that began in Minneapolis and spread to all 50 states, a national conversation about race and diversity has called for reflection from all industries. Footwear is no exception and so the latest installment in FN’s “Executive Smart Talk” series will address why brands need to be tackle conversations around race head on.

On June 18 at 12 p.m. ET, industry leaders Portia Blunt and James Whitner will join FN’s deputy editor Sheena Butler-Young for the virtual roundtable, “Race Revolution: Apologies and Action — Why Brands Need to do Both.”

To register, please click here.

Butler-Young will host the roundtable, following her previous industry-shifting stories on diversity and inclusion as well as her recent breaking coverage of Adidas’ racial-disparity challenges.

The conversation will look at what’s at stake for brands right now, within the context of national unrest over racial injustice; how brands can participate in the conversation in a meaningful way that will support both internal and external stakeholders; and why top executives should lean into the idea of public apology.

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Portia Blunt, director of apparel operations at New Balance, will bring over 19 years of experience in product and design to the conversation. She previously held multiple corporate roles at the footwear-industry stand out, in addition to past positions clothing designer and product manager for the United States Marine Corps. Blunt has spoken regularly over the years on innovation and diversity within footwear, to both students and the industry.

James Whitner, the owner of streetwear boutiques Social Status, A Ma Maniere, A.P.B. and Prosper, is a rising thought leader on subjects surrounding diversity and race in the footwear industry. His stores stock some of the biggest names and collaborations in apparel and footwear, including Dior, Balenciaga, Tier 0 Jordan and Nike. Particularly well-known among sneakerheads — as well as fashion connoisseurs — Pittsburgh-native Whitner has established himself as one of the most successful specialty retail entrepreneurs.

In this roundtable, Butler-Young, Blunt and Whitner will discuss how brands can navigate this time so that they are positioned on the right side of both the conversation and of history.

Previous installments in the “Executive Smart Talk” series include conversations with Zappos GM and Chief Merchant Jeff Espersen; Fila North American president Jennifer Estabrook and Klarna US head David Sykes; Deckers president and CEO Dave Powers; and Foot Locker president and CEO Dick Johnson.

Tune in on June 18 at 12 p.m. for a candid discussion of the critical importance of diversity and inclusion in the industry right now and how brands can engage in the right way. To register, click here.

For sponsorship opportunities, contact advertising director Deborah Baron at dbaron@footwearnews.com.

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