Swedish clothing giant Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) has taken a hit as it was revealed that one of its brands, & Other Stories, used a racial slur to name a beanie internally.
As first reported by CNN, the deeply offending word never made it onto any public-facing materials but was uploaded in July to a product overview system shared with employees, who complained to management.
"We take the use of racially offensive language extremely seriously. While internal and external investigations are taking place, we have suspended the team and managers responsible for this area of the business," H&M spokeswoman Ulrika Isaksson said in a recent statement.
"It is a serious breach of our policies and goes against everything we stand for. We take the use of racially offensive language extremely seriously," she said, adding that "simply taking action on one occasion is not enough."
The H&M Group subsequently announced it had suspended those involved and is taking steps to internally to address racism within the company, including mandatory conscious and unconscious bias training to all employees and greater oversight over images, products and accompanying products, among other measures.
Like a number of other retailers in the current climate, the Swedish retail group has been emphasising its anti-racism credentials in response to Black Lives Matter protests. However, it has been accused of racial insensitivity in the past.
In 2018, the company featured an advertisement of a black boy sporting a hoodie with the words "Coolest monkey in the jungle" written on it.
The subsequent backlash prompted H&M to withdraw the hoodie from sale and appoint Annie Wu to a Chief Diversity Officer position.
“Personally, I am super angry and ashamed that something like this could even happen,” Wu told CNN Business. “I would want to see them terminated because there’s no excuse for it.”
Main image by @hm