If there’s one company who has taken several L’s this year and we’re only a few weeks into 2018, it’s definitely H&M. However it looks like the Swedish fashion brand is now trying really hard to redeem themselves.
After a controversial ad of a young Black boy wearing a hoodie with “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” displayed on the front went viral, H&M was slammed for several days on social media for the racist undertone of the ad. Additionally, retail stores in South Africa were trashed in retaliation and The Weeknd and G-Eazy, who both had fashion collaborations with the brand, cut ties with the company. Several customers vowed to boycott H&M and no longer shop with the company as well.
After giving what many considered a half-apology last week and after the boy's mother disagreed with the majority and surprisingly didn't take offense to the ad, H&M appears to be doing major damage control. On Tuesday (Jan. 16), H&M announced via Facebook that they are planning to hire a diversity leader. In a statement alongside an image, which read “We Are Listening,” H&M said, “The recent incident was entirely unintentional, but it demonstrates so clearly how big our responsibility is as a global brand.”
The company continued, “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.”
Although we champion diversity and inclusivity, will H&M’s new diversity hire be enough? And is H&M truly “listening” to us or thinking about their bottom line at the end of day? Is this a move in the right direction or is it simply a form of damage control for the brand?
It’s been reported that Annie Wu, who was recently the company’s global manager for employee relations, is being promoted to global head of diversity and inclusiveness. We can only hope that H&M will truly learn from their misstep, and this new role will lead to future diversity hires and positive change within the company.