COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Four years after spending $50 million to settle a number of employment discrimination lawsuits, Abercrombie & Fitch says it’s making progress with diversity in its hiring.
The New Albany, Ohio-based teen apparel retailer hired an executive in 2004 to track minority hiring in stores. The company has also incorporated more faces of color into its in-house “look book” depicting the “Abercrombie look,” as required by a consent decree by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Abercrombie has sponsored diversity events and has started a Diversity Management continuing studies program with Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
But the commission isn’t giving Abercrombie high marks for its diversity efforts.
The attorney who monitored Abercrombie’s case in a report last year said he couldn’t find that the company made “best efforts” in achieving diversity, the standard required by the consent decree.
“I think they know they’re going to have to step it up,” said Gregory Gochanour, supervisory attorney for the commission’s Chicago office.
Abercrombie said 35 percent of its 88,000 store employees are ethnic minorities. But that’s not the complete story, Gochanour said.
“They just happened to give you a number that the monitor doesn’t track,” he said.
The monitor measures the hiring of five distinct groups — African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, African American women and women — against benchmarks the company had previously set. The company missed those targets in the majority of cases in the past two years’ summaries.
Findings show the company continues to underrepresent Latinos in its marketing materials and needs to participate in more minority focused recruiting events. From May 2007 to April, Abercrombie’s marketing materials “taken as a whole, did not reflect diversity,” the commission found.
The company has fallen on touch economic times recently, and since June, shares have plummeted 63 percent. ♦