An unspecified number of H&M staff have been suspended after a hat sold by the retailer’s “& Other Stories” brand was described using a racial slur in an internal company document.
CNN reports that a photo of the purple hat was uploaded to one of the company’s product overview interfaces with the caption “Nigga Lab Beanie.” After complaints were filed by offended employees, an internal memo was sent out by Managing Director Karolina Gutke.
“We are deeply sorry about the word connected to an image of a product that was sent out to our stores during July,” Gutke wrote. “This is completely unacceptable and there is no excuse to why this happened.” Perhaps racist product labeling should be included in business checks, hmm?
& Other Stories also issued a statement to CNN in which they said they were “deeply sorry” to find that “one of our internal documents included a reference to a product using a racial slur.” The statement went on:
“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. While internal and external investigations are taking place, we have suspended the team and managers responsible for this area of the business.”
Annie Wu, who is the company’s Chief Diversity Officer, which makes her sound a bit like a diversity cop, was “super angry” over the incident, telling CNN that “I would want to see them [the staff responsible] terminated, because there’s no excuse for it.”
This was a BIG story for CNN, which dedicated a full 2,000 words to it. They even dug into the company’s “diversity numbers,” finding, for example, that H&M employees in the US are 34 percent Hispanic, 26 percent black, 26 percent white, and 7 percent Asian.
The numbers are different when it comes to executive positions. Of those employees, 63 percent are white, 13 percent are Hispanic, and 6 percent are black.
Nationally, white non-Hispanic Americans make up about 60 percent of the population; Hispanics make up about 18 percent; and African Americans about 13 percent.