H&M on the mend after 'coolest monkey' furore

09 October 2018 - 12:48 By Timeslive
H&M appointed a global transformation leader to ensure that diversity and inclusiveness was strengthened in the company.
H&M appointed a global transformation leader to ensure that diversity and inclusiveness was strengthened in the company.
Image: SAUL LOEB / AFP

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Tuesday said fashion retailer H&M was making significant strides in rectifying its wrongs after an outcry over a clothing item that featured the words "coolest monkey in the jungle".

The international clothing company caused a stir in January when it advertised the green hoodie in an ad with a black child. Amid a public outcry‚ the brand was accused of racism and was forced to shut over a dozen of its South African outlets after calls for boycotts and the trashing of some of its stores.

H&M later removed the clothing and issued a public apology. SAHRC provincial manager Buang Jones said the company was "making substantial progress on its commitments to the commission in correcting the offence caused." "Since the Commission's intervention‚ the retailer has co-hosted a workshop with the Anti-Racism Network of South Africa to develop a deeper understanding of the offence the garment advertised and sold‚ provoked‚" said Jones.

"H&M‚ in collaboration with another civil society organisation‚ the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR)‚ developed a training programme for all office and store managers‚ which was implemented in May and August this year. H&M and the commission are currently engaged in discussions for 2019 training programmes‚" he added.

H&M had also appointed a global transformation leader to ensure that diversity and inclusiveness was strengthened in the company.

"It is the commission's hope that H&M and other enterprises understand that they do not operate within a vacuum‚ immune to the respect and attainment of human rights. The commission will continue in its endeavours to protect‚ promote and monitor the attainment of human rights throughout all facets of society‚ including business‚" Jones said. 

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