A report by Sheena Butler-Young from the Business of Fashion (BoF) reveals claims from current and former employees about a company culture unwelcoming to Black people. These allegations include the regular use of stereotypes by leaders and barriers to career advancement for minority employees, seemingly not applicable to their white counterparts.
Despite the establishment of the ‘Inclusion Diversity, Equity and Action’ (IDEA) department in 2020, aimed at enhancing diversity and inclusion, employees have reported a worsening situation. The 14 individuals interviewed by BoF suggest that the IDEA initiative has prioritized the company’s reputation over the welfare and career progression of minority staff, resulting in a non-inclusive environment.
Employees raising concerns about diversity and inclusion have allegedly faced negative repercussions, including missed promotions, disciplinary actions, and even termination. The closure of Lululemon’s Hyde Park store in Chicago’s predominantly Black South Side in August 2023, despite its success, further fuels these allegations. The store, managed by Michael ‘Muffy’ Collins, was staffed entirely by Black employees and was closed unexpectedly, leading to layoffs.
Collins, along with six former employees, has filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing Lululemon of racial discrimination. They cite instances of corporate hostility and deceptive practices concerning role availability and employee transfers. This report from BoF follows previous allegations in 2021 about racial insensitivity within Lululemon, highlighting ongoing concerns about the company’s internal culture.