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To shape your future, own your history … however uncomfortable

IbyIMD+ Published 20 February 2023 in Leadership • 11 min read

After the controversy surrounding rap star Ye’s anti-Semitic comments, the sportswear giant adidas found itself under the spotlight for historical links to the Nazi regime. Lindsay Krasnoff explains how a legacy company can reframe the narrative. 

The anti-Semitic remarks in October by Ye, the Grammy award-winning artist once known as Kanye West, had a multidimensional ripple effect that placed the history of one of his business partners, adidas, in the spotlight. In its delayed response to Ye, the German sportswear giant, a family business, allowed space for its past links to the Nazi regime to be placed anew under public scrutiny.  

The predicament of adidas is not unique. According to an August 2020 study conducted by The History Factory, a brand heritage and archive company, 76% of C-suite leaders know that some of their businesses’ practices of earlier eras would be considered problematic by 21st century values and principles.  

Yet the adidas example provides a…

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