Nike announced this week that five more of its top level executives would be departing the company after an internal inquiry by female Nike employees found a problem of sexual harassment and work-place bias against women. Six people have already been fired or resigned due to the investigation, the results of which were handed to Nike Chief Executive, Tony Parker on March 5.
“I apologize to the people on our team who were excluded, and I apologize if some of those same people felt they had no one to turn to,” Parker said in a candid address to employees after the internal investigation. “I want everyone at Nike to know their voices do matter and your bravery is making us better.”
Ten days after the results of the survey were presented to Mr. Parker, the company announced that Trevor Edwards, who served as the president of the Nike brand, Jayme Martin, Nike’s head of diversity, and a head of foot wear were all let go by the company. Those departures were followed by the release of Steve Lesnard, who was head of running in North America, Helen Kim, Simon Pestridge and Tommy Kain, who was the company’s director of marketing.
Nike is making headlines after The New York Times conducted interviews with fifty current and former employees concerning sexual harassment. One employee claims that she was made to visit other employees at a strip club. Others said they were on the receiving end of unwanted kisses in the workplace. Several people that were interviewed claimed that they brought the problem to Nike’s attention, but nothing was done about the matter.
“While many of us feel like we were treated with respect at Nike, that wasn’t the case in all teams,” Parker told employees during a speech about the investigation. “And if all of our teammates don’t see the same opportunities, we just can’t accept that.”
It is being reported by The New York Times that reactions to Mr. Parker’s speech were mixed, with some feeling hopeful about the promise for change in the workplace environment and in how women were treated, but with other finding the speech “frustratingly vague.” Parker failed, they point out, to lay out specific actions that the company would take to make sure similar incidents wouldn’t happen again.
Despite the steps that Nike has taken in order to create a more inclusive and safer work environment, some are wondering if the massive shakeup could end up still affecting the company’s bottom line. Nike’s stock was already down 1.21% on Tuesday afternoon with some believing it will drop further due to the shakeup. There is also concern about whether the incoming management will be able to achieve the lofty goals set by Parker.
Mr. Parker set a variety of goals for the company, including increasing revenue from $36 to $50 billion dollars by the year 2020. Parker plans to achieve this goal by selling more Nike products in the company’s own stores. Many within the company believe doing so will involve shifting the focus away from sports athletes and turning its attention instead to women and the athleisure market.
“Nike has a deep bench and has a history of moving people around the different businesses,” said Sam Poser, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group. “But we haven’t before seen the exits of people like this who have been there for a very, very long time, and the question is, are the people who are replacing them ready to take on these new jobs?”
Photo by Kaique Rocha