Across the United States and around the world, our friends and neighbors are in a moment of significant reflection. We join them in being deeply saddened by the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the deaths of so many others within the Black community. Acts of violence, hatred and racial injustice against the Black community and other communities of color are reprehensible.
We believe that diversity, respect and support are a given and fundamental to how we conduct ourselves throughout our daily lives.
We believe that violence and aggression in any form is not acceptable in a civilized world.
Now and always, our priority within Clarks is the health and well‐being of our employees, customers and broader communities. We have been partnering closely with mall management and local authorities to temporarily close U.S. stores impacted by gatherings taking place. Whilst some of our stores have sustained damage, all members of our team are safe. We appreciate our store teams’ hard work and professionalism tremendously during these unprecedented times.
Many of you have asked for a response from Clarks about where we stand. Although many other brands have come forward and voiced their position, it is important that we take a thoughtful approach, taking time to listen before we speak. We also have a duty to ask ourselves: “Who are we today? Who do we want to be? And how will we get there?” To answer those questions, we should reflect upon our own history and the values that we hold dear as a company – simplicity, astuteness, stewardship, tenacity, integrity, community and inclusiveness.
Whilst self-reflection is important, action is also critical.
We are on a journey to make these values embedded in everything we do today and for the future. These are the key pillars in the evolution of Clarks as a company and as a community through our transformation. We have identified two primary areas of focus specifically tied to our brand values.
Inclusivity: Ensuring that we create an environment where we champion diversity and welcome new thoughts, new ideas, new points of view and new perspectives. The value of inclusivity has been at the heart of our brand for nearly 200 years and must be upheld and defended now more than ever.
Today, inclusivity has many ways of manifesting itself, including through the diversification of our teams. An organization that thinks and acts globally can only come via a diverse team of people that re-define the way we interact with our consumers and with each other. In that regard, creating a more diverse team is a natural move.
Inclusivity also means creating an environment and culture that’s welcoming, where expressing yourself and your ideas is encouraged, and everyone has the freedom to be who they are.
Community: We must understand the deep meaning of “community” as a pillar of our society and how it relates to our behaviors in a global environment, while embracing and supporting the people of Clarks, and the communities and cultures that make us famous.
Community is what this company was founded on. This is not just about Somerset England, Waltham, MA and the other cities and towns where we work and do business. It is about the communities created by those who live our values in their everyday life, as well as those who make, inspire and wear our shoes around the world. We are talking about communities that have embraced us throughout the years, welcoming us into their lives and carving out a place for us within their cultures. The space we occupy within hip-hop and Jamaican culture is well known, and we see an opportunity to recognize, give back and support those cultures even more.
We are committed to these things. Not as words, but as actions. As we build our action plans over the coming days, weeks and months, we will be inviting key leaders from across our company to contribute to this work and make it more of a reality. We can all bring about positive change, and it is important that we are able to feel proud of this brand we work for and wear.
We have a lot of work to do. To make a positive impact. To live up to the values we stand upon. To be better and do better. Now more than ever, we must disrupt for a lasting world.
All of us. Together.
Chief Executive Officer