An anonymous survey completed by some Nike employees has revealed uncomfortable, unfair and even sexist behavior at the brand's Beaverton, Oregon headquarters, according to an in-depth article recently published in The New York Times. The results of this survey later landed on the desk of Nike CEO Mark Parker, prompting some major changes inside the company.
Now, Parker has responded to the controversy in a formal apology to his Nike employees. According to reports from The Wall Street Journal, the Nike CEO apologized to staff at an all-hands meeting held on Thursday, May 3. According to attendees, Parker showed his remorse for allowing a workplace culture where many felt excluded and apologised to those who felt their complaints weren’t being handled in a serious manner.
“While many of us feel like we’re treated with respect at Nike, that wasn’t the case in all teams. And if all of our teammates don’t see the same opportunities, we just can’t accept that,” Parker stated, according to a transcript of his prepared remarks. He also said that the controversy has been “a painful moment” for him, and outlined the next steps the company plans to take to remedy the situation.
He asked Nike employees to “support each other, be energetic, engaged, constructive and passionate, yet respectful, open and humble.” “Let’s move towards that future,” Parker said. “I’m in 100 (percent), and I’m counting on you to be all-in too.”
As previously reported, a number of high-level executives have departed from Nike following the internal survey, while some employees of the brand are skeptical of its human resources department. The New York Times reveals they interviewed more than 50 current and former employees for the article, which details that "at least six top male executives left or said they were planning to leave the company." This includes "Trevor Edwards, president of the Nike brand, who was widely viewed as a leading candidate to succeed Mr. Parker, and Jayme Martin, Mr. Edwards’s lieutenant, who oversaw much of Nike’s global business."
Personal testimonies from the article include feedback from Francesca Krane, who stated “I came to the realization that I, as a female, would not grow in that company." One employee said that her Nike boss threw his car keys at her and called her a “stupid bitch.” Former employees said they were discluded from working in crucial divisions of the company like basketball.
Responding to the allegations, Nike spokesperson KeJuan Wilkins plainly said: "That is not something we are going to tolerate." Nike, the biggest sportswear brand in the world, will surely be looking to take steps to combat these behaviors, such as enlisting Kellie Leonard as the brand's chief diversity and inclusion officer. In addition, spokesperson Mr. Wilkins said that Nike is focused “on attracting, developing and elevating both women and people of color throughout the organization."
It is unclear whether CEO Mark Parker was aware of these issues within the company, or if information was purposefully kept from him.
Read the full piece here.
Listen to our recent episode of The Dropcast below, where we discuss the controversy with sneaker brand consultant Jazerai Allen-Lord and Married to the Mob founder Leah McSweeney.
If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted, there are resources to help you.