Clicks suspends two employees for controversial ad

Group CEO Vikesh Ramsunder has apologised for the ad, which sparked outrage across the country.

Group CEO Vikesh Ramsunder has apologised and announced the suspension of two employees following the publication of a controversial ad that sparked outrage across the country. The ad depicted of black people's hair as "dry" and "damaged" but white people's hair as "normal” and the CEO released a statement on Monday saying he was “deeply disappointed that we allowed insensitive and offensive images to be published on our website. I apologise unreservedly for the hurt and anger these images have caused.”

Vikesh also said the emotive responses of Clicks customers had been mirrored by their employees and management teams. 

“Already, the negligent employees have been suspended, and we have engaged the supplier, who has now also issued an apology. This incident has highlighted the need to audit all of our 3rd party (and our own) promotional material for any implicit or explicit bias as well as the need for diversity and inclusivity training for all of our head office employees. This will be urgently implemented,” said Vikesh, adding that the Clicks board had already had a board meeting plot a way forward.

This would include prioritising the re-evaluation of its diversity and inclusion training programme.

Said Vikesh “As a company, we cannot change what happened, but we are learning from this. We are committed to effecting real, systemic change across our business that reflects our pride in being a truly South African company. We have done a lot in terms of transformation. This issue has clearly highlighted that we have a lot more to do. We appeal to all stakeholders to engage with us so that we redress actions to demonstrate our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We will take the necessary precautionary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our customers and our employees. This includes dealing with the threat of the disruption of our business activities and intimidation of our customers and employees.”