Diversity drive ordered at retail giant

American clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has settled a class-action lawsuit by agreeing to hire 25 diversity recruiters in an attempt to alter its mostly white, ‘all-American’ image.

A California judge approved the settlement, under which the company will pay US$40m (£20.9m) to thousands of minority and female plaintiffs, as well as having to appoint a vice-president for diversity, and use benchmarks, so that hiring and promotion decisions reflect its applicant pool.

The company will also increase diversity in recruitment and promotions in its adverts and catalogues to encourage minority applications.

The company was sued last year when Hispanic, black and Asian applicants complained that they were being directed to low-visibility jobs, such as stocking and maintenance. The company did not admit to guilt, and agreed to provide diversity training to all hiring managers and revise performance evaluations, making progress in diversity a factor in bonuses and compensation.

Abercrombie & Fitch, which has 700 stores and 22,000 employees, has had a long-standing practice of recruiting on college campuses and urging attractive students to apply for jobs. The settlement requires the company to stop focusing on predominantly white university students.

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