Reports suggest Red Bull GmbH fired two top North American executives over an internal disagreement concerning the company’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement as it enjoys immense success throughout the continent.
Stefan Kozak, the company’s former North America chief executive, and Amy Taylor, the company’s North America chief marketing officer, both departed from the company. Florian Klaas, who was also and Global Head of Music, Entertainment, and Culture Marketing, was released as well, with his entire department scrapped, according to a statement from the company, as reported the Wall Street Journal.
Those released by the major energy drink brand were excited to use the brand to push for diversity, inclusion, and racial justice following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Taylor, Red Bull’s former CMO, was an avid supporter for racial justice and was reportedly emboldened by the recent Black Lives Matter movement’s recent wave of popularity.
Kozak, the company’s CEO, was supportive of Taylor’s pro-diversity and inclusion stances for several years, but was met with resistance by the company’s owners when the Black Lives Matter movement reached its zenith early last month.
“We reject racism in every form, we always have, and we always will,” Red Bull told the Wall Street Journal in a statement.
They added, “Red Bull has always put people and their dreams and accomplishments at its core and values the contribution of each and every person—no matter who they are. We want everyone who feels this way to be welcome in Red Bull.”
Despite the anti-racist statement, some of Red Bull’s employees began to express concerns over the company’s silence regarding the recent Black Lives Matter movement’s popular success as other massive corporations donated to the cause of racial justice or raised awareness through the use of filters and hashtags on social media.
Disgruntled employees also condemned the company’s politically incorrect slide used at an internal event in Detroit that piqued concerns about racism. Around three hundred employees signed a petition calling out the company’s apathy towards Black Lives Matter.
Business Insider, who reviewed the slide after it was leaked, reported:
The slide, which was leaked to Business Insider, showed a world map that labeled the Middle East and Southeast Asia as “evil doers,” continental Europe as “pussies,” and South America as “coffee comes from here I think.” Multiple employees said Klaass’ Austria-based team included the slide despite being warned not to do so by US colleagues.
Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, who co-founded Red Bull and owns 49% of the company, has expressed support for populist movements in Europe, and has criticized mass immigration to Western countries.
This article has been updated to better clarify which former executives left Red Bull and what their positions entailed.