H&M Hires Black Woman As New Head of Inclusion And Diversity Amid Company Criticism
Surrounded by declining sales and a firestorm of criticism, it’s not surprising that international fashion retailer H&M would take the necessary steps to try and save the struggling brand before it’s too late—and it now lies in the hands of one black woman.
Surely you remember almost a year ago when H&M found itself in hot water when it placed a picture on the company website showing a young black boy wearing a hoodie that read “coolest monkey in the jungle.” The backlash was fierce and immediate (even though the boy’s mother saw nothing wrong with the photo,) and H&M’s sales started to slide along with the public reputation.
Well, as with most things in this country, a black woman has been brought on board to save the day. H&M has just announced that Ezinne Kwubiri is the newly appointed Head of Inclusion and Diversity. When asked about what she is committed to bringing to the H&M brand, Kwubiri offered a direct and impassioned response:
“I’m coming from a completely different organisation and I want to challenge the status quo. I see myself as the new blood, the new person in the office that is coming with a fresh perspective. I want to challenge the mindset across the board, from the way we do our promotions, to our hiring process, to how we interact with our employees and customers, as well as their communities— who all deserve our support and celebration.”
Kwubiri also didn’t shy away from the tough questions, specifically when she was asked about the recent controversy surrounding the brand and its public image:
“We are, of course, still very aware of what happened, and still very aware we made a mistake. We’re determined to continue moving forward in a positive way and to create genuine change. One of our values at H&M is constant improvement and we really mean it. These challenges and opportunities are bigger and more important than one incident. We want to know what does real representation really look like at a global scale retailer? How do people feel when they’re walking through the door and how do they feel while working here?”
She continued, noting that she hopes that customers and critics will begin to see a change in the company in as little as a few months. She added that H&M has become more active in their community and strives to build a process of authentic interaction, representation and support.
We want to give our congrats to Ezinne Kwubiri and her #BlackGirlMagic! Here’s hoping H&M truly learned from the previous missteps and does better going forward.