Too Little Too Late? H&M Hires Diversity Leader In Attempt To Move Forward After Racist Hoodie Backlash
H&M wants customers to know they’re listening, listening to the boycotts, listening to their stores being vandalized in protest and listening to the thousands of tweets expressing scorn and disgust at the brand’s decision to feature a black boy rocking a hoodie that read, “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle” in an on-line look book for U.K. customers a few weeks ago.
After backlash ran rampant accusing the company of racism, H&M quickly issued an apology and pulled the sweatshirt, despite the boy’s mother expressing she had no issue with what her son was wearing in the campaign. Several celebrities including singer The Weeknd and rapper G-Eazy announced they were completely cutting ties with the brand following the incident. The store also closed several stores in South Africa where protests began to grow violent.
BET reports in an attempt to right their wrong, the Swedish brand has announced they have appointed a “global leader” to address “diversity and inclusiveness.” Global manager for employee relations, Annie Wu has been assigned to the position, although her set duties and responsibilities have yet to be defined. Forbes reports this is a long overdue move, especially given the company’s board of directors all appear to be white.
Is it me, or should this have been a no-brainer from the beginning given the retailer’s global presence? According to Forbes, the fashion apparel giant has over 4,000 stores across nearly 70 global markets — plus e-commerce in over 40 international markets. Something tells me it’s going to take a whole lot more than a fancy position with the word “diversity” in it for H&M to get it right, but I guess it’s a start.
You can check out H&M’s official announcement below:
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The recent incident was entirely unintentional, but it demonstrates so clearly how big our responsibility is as a global brand. We have reached out, around the world, inside and outside H&M to get feedback. Our commitment to addressing diversity and inclusiveness is genuine, therefore we have appointed a global leader, in this area, to drive our work forward. There will be more from us soon.