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It is a humbling setback for a company that is famous worldwide and has built its brand around the inspirational slogan “Just Do It.”
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movement has led to the downfall of individual men, the kind of sweeping overhaul that is occurring at Nike is rare in the corporate world, and illustrates how internal pressure from employees is forcing even huge companies to quickly address workplace problems.
As women — and
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men — continue to come forward with complaints, Nike has begun a comprehensive review of its human resources operations, making management training mandatory and revising many of its internal reporting procedures.
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departure of top executives has been covered in news accounts, new reporting by The New York Times, including interviews with more than 50 current and former employees, provides the most thorough account yet of how disaffection among women festered and left them feeling ignored, harassed and stymied in their careers. The Times also viewed copies of three complaints to human resources.“I came to the realization that I, as
a female, would not grow in that company,” said Francesca Krane, who worked for five years in Nike’s retail brand
area before leaving in 2016. She said she grew tired of watching men get
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promoted into jobs ahead of women she felt were equally or better qualified.
Many of those interviewed, across multiple divisions, also described a workplace environment that was demeaning to women. Three people, for instance,
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said they recalled times when male superiors referred to people using a vulgar term for women’s genitals. Another employee said that her boss threw his car keys at her and called her a “stupid bitch.” She reported the incident to human resources. (She told her sister about it at the time, the sister confirmed.) He continued to be her supervisor.
Most of the people who spoke to The Times insisted on anonymity, citing nondisclosure agreements or a fear of being ostracized in the industry, or in the Portland community, where Nike wields outsize influence. Some have spouses or family members still working
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to questions, Nike portrayed its problems as being confined to “an insular group of high-level managers” who “protected each other and looked the other way.”
“That is not something we are going to tolerate,” said a spokesman, KeJuan Wilkins.
In a statement, Mr.
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Parker said the vast majority of Nike’s employees work hard to inspire and serve athletes throughout the world. “It has pained me to hear that there are pockets of our company where behaviors inconsistent with our values have prevented some employees from feeling respected and doing their best work,” he said.
For Amanda Shebiel, who left Nike in September after about five years at the company, the promise to address longstanding systemic problems is welcome, but late.
“Why did it take an anonymous survey to make change?” she asked. “Many of my peers and I
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reported incidences and a culture that were uncomfortable, disturbing, threatening, unfair, gender-biased and sexist — hoping that something would change that would make us believe in Nike again.”
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