Fashion retailer H&M, more than a week after a photo of a black boy in a “coolest monkey in the jungle” hoodie caused an international backlash, announced Wednesday that the company has appointed a diversity leader.
The Swedish-based company announced its decision on its Facebook page:
The recent incident was entirely unintentional, but it demonstrates so clearly how big our responsibility is as a global brand. We have reached out, around the world, inside and outside H&M to get feedback. Our commitment to addressing diversity and inclusiveness is genuine, therefore we have appointed a global leader, in this area, to drive our work forward.
There will be more from us soon.
The post included a photo with the words, “We are listening.”
USA Today reports that the new diversity leader is Annie Wu, H&M’s global manager for employee relations. According to her LinkedIn account, which appears to have since been taken down, Wu has been with the company since 2012. Previously, Wu was director of labor relations for New York City’s Department of Homeless Services.
At this point, it’s unclear how exactly Wu’s role would function and what her responsibilities will be.
The move comes after H&M was forced to temporarily shutter some of its South African stores after anti-racism protests. According to Quartz Africa, the protests were organized by the group Economic Freedom Fighters, which the outlet describes as a “left-wing, youth-oriented political movement.” The EFF descended on H&M stores around the country, toppling displays and demanding that the global brand leave South Africa.
Quartz Africa also reports that a South African nongovernmental organization that demanded H&M executives undergo “compulsory anti-racism and diversity training” says the company has agreed to meet with it after initially being met with a “bland and automated response.”
The racist hoodie controversy cost H&M two of its high-profile collaborators, singer the Weeknd and rapper G-Eazy, and was denounced by celebrities like LeBron James and Diddy.