Corporations just can’t seem to stop doing racist things, despite all the flowery statements and promises of change that have come from them this year and other times before.
The H&M Group is now apologizing to its employees and the public for a photo it recently discovered in the internal systems of one of its clothing companies, & Other Stories, which reportedly labeled one of its hats as “Nigga Lab Beanie.”
“We are deeply sorry about the word connected to an image of a product that was sent out to our stores during July,” Managing Director Karolina Gutke wrote in a memo to & Other Stories’ employees recently, reports CNN. “This is completely unacceptable and there is no excuse [as] to why this happened.”
H&M Group confirmed the slur appeared on a list in July of all the clothing items and accessories to be sold for the upcoming Fall/Winter season. The list was uploaded to an internal system and under each product was the internal name of the item — a kind of codename used only by the company. The captions are created and uploaded by design and buying teams — and have to be approved by multiple people before they hit the server, the employees said.
H&M Group, the parent company of the retail store, which has locations in Europe and the U.S., says they’ve pulled the hat in question from their product line and have also suspended the employees who worked on it while they conduct an investigation, adding that their global inclusion and diversity policy condemns the use of racial slurs.
“We take the use of racially inappropriate language extremely seriously. Although the word was never printed on an actual product, the use of the word was completely unacceptable and is inexcusable,” a statement on the website of & Other Stories read.
It’s not surprising that H&M Group plans to bring the hammer down on this messiness in association with their brand. The company had a very public come-to-Jesus moment in terms of racial insensitivity after it’s namesake brand published a photo in 2018 of a Black boy modeling a hoodie that read, “coolest monkey in the jungle.”
In response to global protests against H&M stores at the time, the company said in a statement that it was committed to “listening” (language that has become all too familiar two years later), and hired a chief diversity officer to prove it.
The company’s global diversity head, Annie Wu, now says she ultimately wants the culprits behind the beanie label to be fired.
“Personally, I am super angry and ashamed that something like this could even happen,” Wu told CNN Business. “I would want to see them terminated, because there’s no excuse for it.”
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