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SAHRC expects draft action plan from H&M on diversity, racism

The commission says it’s deeply disappointed by a recent advertisement by the global retailer.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). Picture: www.sahrc.org.za

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it expects to receive a draft plan of action from retailer H&M on how to deal with diversity and racism.

The commission says it’s deeply disappointed by a recent advertisement by the global retailer, which featured a black boy in a hoodie with the words "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle".

The ad sparked public outcry, forcing the retailer to remove it and to issue an apology.

The organisation says it met with representatives from the retailer on Friday.

SAHRC CEO Tseliso Thipanyane says: “I’ve heard issues of unfair discrimination and racism with or without complaints. Upon seeing the hoodie and seeing the reaction by South Africans, the commission felt that it was racist and offensive.”

H&M has since announced it will embark on anti-racism programmes both locally and around the world.

H&M says it’s usually high standards of checks and balances have failed the company.

The retailer adds it’s taken steps to ensure such offensive garments are never manufactured under its name again.

Headquarter management will now receive training from a specialist organisation on issues relating to diversity.

Socially-responsible marketing will be promoted during a collaboration between H&M’s Swedish marketing management team and local “black agencies”.

H&M is also exploring potential collaborations with local South African designers as well as plans to open six new stores this year.

This is expected to create 300 jobs.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)