Lululemon is accused of being performative with its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
According to Business of Fashion, six or more former employees of a Chicago, IL, location have now filed complaints against the yoga apparel brand with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission citing racial discrimination.
Following Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis, MN, police officers, Lululemon had at the time issued a statement that read: “Lululemon commits to inclusion, diversity, equity, and action,” per the outlet.
The company also vowed to hire a head of DEI, partner with colleges that serve underrepresented groups, and establish an internship program to improve minority representation, among other initiatives.
Nearly four years later, the company is under fire for not upholding the aforementioned promises.
The primary initiative drawing attention is the department formally launched by Lululemon in November 2020 known as IDEA, which stands for “Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action.”
The department was created to bump up staff diversity as well as increase training and development centering diversity and inclusion, all with the purpose of establishing an “ongoing dialogue” between underrepresented employees and CEO, Calvin McDonald.
The outlet says a corporate lawyer who previously led diversity initiatives at Abercrombie & Fitch, Stacia Jones, was also tapped by the apparel brand to guide the new 20-person team and had an annual budget of $5 million.
In an interview among 14 current and past Lululemon employees, which include everyone from sales associates to global ambassadors and corporate managers across the U.S. and Canada, the outlet was informed of several accounts in which the company’s corporate culture was “unwelcoming of Black people.”
“IDEA is a wave in the company and … we just need to ride the wave until there is something else,” Miya Dotson, a former IDEA manager, remembers hearing from her supervisor when she joined the team, per Business of Fashion.
Additionally, leaders were accused of often using stereotypes “to define and ostracise minority employees who face barriers to career advancement that don’t seem to apply to white colleagues.”
“[Lululemon] makes you feel like it’s going to be supportive and you’re not going to be a part of the history of micro-aggressive behavior and it just isn’t the case,” said Konesha Armstrong of her experience working in the brand’s brick-and-mortar location in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.
She served as the store’s operations lead.
A spokesperson for the company shared in a response to the allegations that Lululemon takes them “very seriously.”
Moreover, the person said the claims “do not reflect the culture we have built and worked to maintain across Lululemon.”
No further details on the EEOC’s response to the complaints are available at this time.