Fewer than 4.5 per cent of the workers at the company's North American headquarters identify as black. Members of that small group say they feel ignored and sometimes discriminated against.

In the United States, Adidas has built much of its name — and sales — through its association with black superstars. In the 1980s, the seminal hip-hop group Run-DMC gave the company's sneakers and apparel cultural cachet through its song My Adidas. Popular black athletes and entertainers like James Harden, Candace Parker and Kanye West endorse its products.

In April, Adidas announced a new partnership with Beyoncé Knowles. Knowles posted

"A lot of lip service"

Harden Uncaged and all-white shoes

Contradictory messages from the top