H&M retailer hires Black executive to head diversity in North America

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H&M, one of the world’s largest fashion retailer, announced on Monday, November 19 that it has hired Ezinne Kwubiri as Head of Inclusion & Diversity for North America.  H&M aims to boost inclusion and diversity after a string of embarrassing marketing campaigns that offended Black consumers and sparked a social media backlash.

Last week, the Crusader named H&M in a story that reported that out of 52 executives at Target, only one of them is Black. One year ago, the Crusader published a similar story that said H&M had no Blacks out of its 33 executives. In 2017, H&M was criticized after it ran an advertisement that featured a Black boy wearing a green hoodie with the words ‘The coolest monkey in the jungle.” The ad sparked a backlash on social media and H&M was forced to close its stores in South Africa after they were severely damaged by angry mobs.

Kwubiri’s new role will work closely with the Global Leader of Diversity and Inclusiveness, Annie Wu, based in Stockholm. Kwubiri has a mandate to develop and implement a transformative strategy to make H&M an even more inclusive and diverse company in North America. She will lead the charge in how H&M thinks about, acts on, and achieves inclusion and diversity. This includes, but is not limited to, championing key I&D differentiators in the organization’s ability to attract, develop, retain and promote the best talent throughout North America, ensuring H&M’s global inclusion and diversity philosophy is fully-realized through an operationalized strategy and consistent and regular evaluation of transparent results that enable the organization to hold itself accountable, track, measure and communicate its progress.

“I am incredibly excited to join the H&M team and bring a fresh perspective to help create meaningful and visible change for our employees, customers and their communities,” said Ezinne Kwubiri, H&M’s Head of Inclusion & Diversity, North America.

Ezinne will report directly to the new President of H&M North America, Martino Pessina. Pessina has been with H&M for 17 years, beginning his new role in 2018, and currently oversees over 700 North American locations and over 18,000 employees. As President, Pessina plans to utilize his years of experience with the brand as well as keen insight into business growth and development across the US, Canada and Mexico and provide customers with an amazing omni channel shopping experience. Pessina brings an immense wealth of experience having successfully served many roles at H&M, including Business Controller for the head Buying Office and Head of Merchandising for Germany, France and Central Europe, leading to a role as Global Head of Merchandising. Additionally, he has held the roles of Country Manager H&M Sweden, Head of Global Expansion for the H&M Group and most recently Head of Global Sales.

“We are thrilled to have Ezinne join our H&M family,” said Martino Pessina, President of H&M North America. “She brings a wealth of experience and expertise, and everyone in our organization is eager to learn, grow and fulfil our commitment to our employees, our customers and ourselves.”

 

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