The head of human resources at sportswear giant Adidas resigned amid a dispute over the company’s corporate culture and lack of diversity.
Karen Parkin is a British citizen who has worked at Adidas for more than 20 years.
Her departure follows protests from the Adidas team about a comment she made at an internal meeting last year.
Global brands face increasing pressure to act on racial equality after George Floyd’s death.
In a statement released by the second largest sportswear manufacturer in the world, Parkin said he had always opposed racism and “decided to retire and pave the way for change”.
According to the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, a group of more than 80 Adidas workers called for an investigation into Parkin’s handling of racism, diversity and inclusion.
Parkin said at a meeting for employees at Adidas Reebok headquarters last year that the issue of racism was “noise”, which was discussed only in the United States.
His resignation is one of the most prominent corporate movements today, as Floyd’s death in May intensified the focus on the discussion of racism and inequality worldwide.
Parkin, who is stepping down with immediate effect, was the only woman on the company’s board.
His resignation means that the company’s executive board is now made up entirely of white men. Adidas had previously said it would take steps to address issues of diversity and inclusion.
The company has promised to ensure that at least 30% of its new employees in America come from black or Latin backgrounds.
It also set a target for groups that fulfill 12% of their leadership roles in the USA in five years.
Adidas is also among the growing number of global brands that have joined the boycott of advertisers on social media when dealing with racist content.
The action comes after the Stop Hate For Profit campaign asked companies to pause their advertising on Facebook and Instagram for the month of July.
Some companies have gone further and suspended their ads on other platforms.