- Ikea is reissuing its 2021 catalog because it included an image of a young Black man wearing a T-shirt with a series of numbers on the back.
- An Ikea employee pointed out the numbers resembled the serial numbers worn by prison inmates, the company told Quartz.
- The numbers were “were intended only as a design detail,” Ikea told Quartz, but it agreed the photo could “reinforce negative stereotypes.”
- Ikea has released a corrected digital edition, and delayed physical catalogs until later this year so it can rip out the offending pages.
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Ikea is reissuing its 2021 catalog because of a picture that it said could have perpetuated damaging racial stereotypes.
The catalog included a full-page image of a young Black man assembling a coffee table. The man was wearing a T-shirt with a series of numbers on the back (45678).
One Ikea employee told the company it resembled the serial numbers worn by prison inmates, Quartz reported.
The numbers “were intended only as a design detail,” Ikea told the publication, but after a review the company agreed the photo could “lend itself to negative interpretation and reinforce negative stereotypes.”
This delayed the launch of the latest catalog by the Swedish furniture giant, which was initially due to hit US stores this August. Corrected editions will be available in US stores later this year, Ikea told Quartz.
Ikea won’t have to reprint the catalogs, it said — it will simply tear out the page from the 296-page books.
The company has reissued a corrected digital edition of the same man in different attire, it told Business Insider.
Ikea told Business Insider it was “deeply sorry” for the image.
“In a number of versions of the Ikea Catalogue 2021 there is an image of a man which was intended to illustrate the Ikea assembly service. We understand that the image can be interpreted as reinforcing negative racial stereotypes. We are deeply sorry for this and assure you that it was not intentional,” it said.
It added that an important part of its diversity and inclusion values was “acknowledging and taking action when we get it wrong.”
To produce the catalog, the company made “conscious decisions … to represent a diversity of people,” Ikea said. “We are evaluating our creative review processes in an effort to learn and to prevent something like this from happening again.”
It said that “racism, prejudice, and hatred have no place at Ikea, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”