Under Armour has vowed to improve the racial diversity of its management, one step CEO Patrik Frisk said the athletic apparel brand will take to “stand with our Black teammates, athletes, consumers and community.”
“Over the past week, as my leadership team and I listened to our Black teammates express a variety of emotions from anger to frustration to exhaustion, not only about the recent incidents, but the history of social injustice and systemic racism in the United States and throughout the globe, we recognized the immense responsibility we have to do so much more,” Frisk said Monday in a letter to employees.
The head of the Baltimore-based company announced several initiatives, such as a virtual session for employees on racial justice issues and a social media platform for athletes and workers to discuss challenges and racial injustice.
Frisk unveiled the plans after protesters in the Baltimore area and elsewhere gathered and marched for the 10th straight day after the death of George Floyd and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Floyd, a black man, died May 25 in police custody in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death has sparked protests and unrest across the country and in nations around the world.
Under Armour has made progress in a diversity strategy over the past year and a half, Frisk said, but will take additional steps focusing on management and leadership levels.
The company in the past acknowledged a need to transform its corporate culture, mostly focusing on treatment of women in the workplace in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
On Monday, the company said it plans to focus recruiting efforts on improving representation of historically underrepresented groups in corporate locations, particularly at the director level and above. For those underrepresented groups, it also plans to increase funding for professional development and to make leaders more accountable for hiring, retaining and promoting.
Frisk thanked members of Under Armour’s worker resource group BEAT, or Black Employees Achieving Together, for speaking out to advocate for change.
“We are a global company with incredible talent in our corporate offices, our retail locations, our distribution centers and within our family of athletes, and we owe it to them — and to all of you — to do better,” Frisk said.
Besides workers, Frisk said, the brand has heard from its endorser athletes that “they want the brand to stand with them and for them, by leveraging UA’s global reach to amplify their voices and raise awareness in the fight against racial inequality.”
On that front, the company is launching programs, including a social media platform in which athletes and workers around the world will facilitate conversations about racial justice issues in the sports world and the workplace. He encouraged employees to tune in to become better informed.
Later this month, Under Armour expects to designate a day to support its black workers through a virtual session to discuss racial justice.