A big shake up has occurred at Adidas headquarters where the company let employees on Saturday (August 29, 2020) that global creative director Paul Gaudio will step down from his role on August 31, 2020.
The news was announced with an internal email sent to employees on Saturday, according to Complex, which broke the story.
The company confirmed Gaudio’s departure in a statement provided to Complex, which reads as follows: “We are very grateful for his contributions over his long tenure, including the last six years as our global creative director. Paul’s creative vision, deep understanding of consumer trends, and passion for breaking down the barriers between sports and the arts has played an important role in building our brand.”
Adidas did not say why Gaudio was stepping down after 20 years with the German-based company, but the announcement followed within two days of Gaudio leaving a comment on a Complex Instagram post covering the news of Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who has been arresting for murdering two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
In his comment (above), Gaudino whose Instagram handle is @neckbelly, expressed empathy for Rittenhouse in a comment that read, “He is also a victim here. He’s a kid, who raised him? Who taught him? Who gave him a gun? Not excusing him by any means…but the adults who radicalized him and enabled him should be punished.”
At least two people who identified themselves as current Adidas employees responded to Gaudino’s comments. One Adidas employee wrote in part, “As one of the very few black people working in product creation for adidas Originals–Paul, I find your comment incredibly disappointing and tone deaf. This sort of response from anybody is shocking, but coming from a man in your position working within our business is mind blowing…”
The Kenosha protesters were demonstrating again the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old man who was shot in the back seven times as he opened the door to his SUV on August 23rd. Three of his sons were in the back seat when the shooting took place. Blake remains hospitalized and according to his father Blake is paralyzed from the waist down. It’s not currently known if the damage will be permanent.
In June, Adidas employees demonstrated at the company’s Portland headquarters over multiple days to call attention to the company’s hiring and promotion policies that foster racism and discrimination against Black employee, a dynamic viewed as particularly problematic given Black culture’s influence on and contributions to sneaker culture.
In addition to the departure of controversial human resources executive Karen Parkin in late June, following the protest Adidas pledged that 30 percent of new hires would be Black or Latino. Adidas also announced it planned to expand funding for programs addressing racial disparities to $120 million over five years. The company also pledged to fund 50 college scholarships a year for Black students for the next five years.
Check out the post Gaudino responded to below.