Beyoncé Ditches Reebok for Adidas Over Lack of Diversity

ESPN’s Nick DePaula reported on Friday that Beyoncé had the internet buzzing with the news that Adidas edged out Reebok while she searched for brands with whom she could partner for her upcoming athleisure sportswear collection. Beyoncé ultimately chose Adidas over a number of other sneaker companies, including Reebok, Jordan and Under Armour.

Adidas continues to remain the more fashion-forward of all the major brands like Nike, Reebok, etc. specifically due to its noteworthy partnerships with high-profile musicians like Kanye West and Pharrell.

Beyoncé boldly walked out of Reebok’s pitch meeting because not one of the members of the team, who would potentially be working with her on her line, reflected her own background and race.

At one point in the meeting, she asked point blank: “Is this the team that will be working on my product?”

A Reebok representative answered: “Yes.”

And it was a wrap for the meeting.

“Nobody in this room reflects my background, my skin color, and where I’m from and what I wanna do,” Beyoncé told the folks at Reebok. The megastar noted the importance of diversity with reference forming a partnership with her brand.

Many times, entertainers speak about diversity and discrimination but few put their money where there mouths are and Beyoncé has enough star power and influence to facilitate change. And she is now forcing brands to take notes and get into “Formation.”

This well-anticipated collaboration will include the relaunch of Beyoncé’s popular fitness brand, Ivy Park, of which she is the sole owner.

DePaula spoke openly about the bold move stating: “For her [Beyoncé], it really goes beyond that. It’s not just about putting her name on a shoe and here’s the new Adidas Beyonce 1, or whatever they end up calling it. It’s about having an imprint on the company and an impact in terms of diversity.”

And DePaula would be correct.

Last year, a report from Nielsen, one of Fair360, formerly DiversityInc’s Top 50 companies, assessed that Blacks in the United States contributed $1.2 trillion dollars to major markets. That’s a lot of buying power and to not be able to find representation within the brands that Blacks are supporting is insulting to say the least.

This data, emphatically, demonstrates that brands have an increasingly demanding responsibility to do and be better.

And Beyoncé’s willingness to hold Reebok accountable for its lack of diversity is surely a testimony to that.

The irony of this situation, in particular, is Adidas actually owns Reebok. So now begs the question — who made the decision for Adidas to promote diversity and inclusion and its sister, Reebok, to not do it?

The Adidas executive leadership team is devised of six people— all white including a woman.

Vice President of Fair360 Enterprise Shane Nelson weighed in on the companies stating: “Working with Beyoncé would have been a huge win for them! The fact that they fumbled this tells me that they either don’t have a D&I strategy, or if they do, it’s all talk. Imagine if they had a women’s, Black or millennial ERG they could tap into for this.”