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Zalando to drive diversity after racism investigation

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

21 Aug 2020


In June this year Zalando investigated allegations of racism pertaining to employees not booking black models and using discriminatory language about skin tone. The issues were raised by a former employee of Zalando Studios via social media channels.

Zalando said in a statement it could not confirm the core allegations, but admitted instances of language and behavior that were perceived as insensitive or discriminatory did take place.

Zalando further uncovered and investigated six unrelated complaints, which it said could be categorized as micro-aggressions towards members of marginalised groups and said it was responding by making anti-discrimination and communication training mandatory.

While no disciplinary action was taken, the German e-commerce giant said would issue a clear internal ‘tone-from-the-top’ communication against racism, with explicit reference to its Code of Ethics and other relevant rules. Other measure include guidance for model booking and content creation and mandatory anti-discrimination training on all leadership levels.

“Racism has no place at Zalando. This has always been our position and we are constantly seeking ways of ensuring that is everyone’s experience. The findings from this investigation have given us a better picture of where we stand and also offer specific ideas of where we can do better to ensure that everyone, whether that be an employee, a customer, a model or a partner - feels equally valued, heard and empowered,” says Zalando co-founder and co-CEO Robert Gentz.

Image via Zalanda