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Red Bull fires executives who pushed for ‘diversity and inclusion’

The maker of Red Bull energy drinks has replaced its top U.S. executives amid internal tensions over the closely held company’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Red Bull GmbH, the Austrian company that makes the drink, said Stefan Kozak, its North America chief executive, and Amy Taylor, its North America president and chief marketing officer, have left the company. It named other executives to temporarily fill the roles.

Red Bull didn’t give a reason for the changes, which were announced in an internal memo Monday.

Ms. Taylor had been working on diversity and inclusion efforts within the company with Mr. Kozak’s support for several years but was met with opposition when she began advocating for Red Bull to be more overt in its support of racial justice in the last month, according to people familiar with the matter.

Some U.S. employees had recently raised concerns about what they considered the company’s inaction on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Several insiders close to the situation said it was widely believed that Kozak and Taylor were fired by Austrian leadership over the leak and internal tension over diversity issues. Two employees said Taylor had been working on a project to increase black representation at Red Bull but that the leadership wasn’t interested.

Along with firing the executives, Red Bull cut or dissolved entertainment and culture teams in Canada, the UK, and Austria and canceled most of its major cultural events, including its annual Red Bull Music Festival and Red Bull Presents.

Two employees said global CEO Dietrich Mateschitz told staff earlier this year that there wouldn’t be any layoffs in 2020.
Two others who work in marketing, however, said management told them that between 20 and 50 people were laid off or told that they would have to choose between new jobs and exit packages.

Another employee said the culture teams were seen as the most vocal about racial justice matters and that US staffers saw the restructuring as a form of punishment.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal / Business Insider
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