Adidas on Tuesday announced the resignation of Karen Parkin, executive board member for global human resources, effective immediately. In mid-June, The Wall Street Journal reported that Adidas employees had asked the supervisory board to investigate Parkin's treatment of racial issues in the workplace.
Until a successor is named, CEO Kasper Rorsted will take on Parkin's responsibilities. Parkin had been with the company since 1997, and served as the head of HR for five and a half years, according to a company press release.
In a statement on her departure, Parkin said it had "become clear to me that to unify the organization it would be better for me to retire and pave the way for change."
After weeks of reports on employees calling for change at Adidas, including a request for Parkin to be investigated, the retailer's HR chief has stepped down.
Adidas has faced employee complaints for years over diversity in the workplace, especially as a brand that has identified itself with Black cultural icons like Kanye West and Beyoncé. Parkin has been identified by some employees as part of the problem. According to the Journal's reporting, Parkin last year called racism "noise" that was only discussed in America.
Many of the issues Adidas has grappled with came to the forefront during the protests, and the retailer in response released a list of actions it would take to improve diversity and inclusion. Those included a $20 million investment in Black communities, later upped to $120 million through 2025, and a commitment to fill at least 30% of all new U.S. positions with Black or Latinx candidates. The retailer later added in an Instagram post that half of all new positions would be filled with "diverse talent," inclusive of all diversity categories.
Parkin's resignation is the latest move the brand has made to realign itself for a more inclusive future. While Rorsted noted that Parkin has "played a significant part" in the company's focus on racial inequality in recent weeks, both the board and Parkin herself seem to think a new leader is needed.
Igor Landau, chairman of the supervisory board, said Parkin's decision to leave reflects, "her belief that a new HR leader will best drive forward the pace of change that adidas needs at this time." Parkin, too, noted in her statement that it was time for her to move on in order to unify the organization.
"I am deeply committed to our goals of creating a more diverse, inclusive and equitable company," Parkin said in a statement. "While we have made progress in many areas, there is much more work to be done. … Now is the right time for a new HR leader to take over the function, to seize the opportunity before us and drive forward the pace of change to create a more diverse and inclusive adidas that we can all be proud of."