Over the last year or so, women who work at the Nike headquarters have been coming forward with complaints about male coworkers and the culture within the company. The complaints were mostly about the “boys club” culture within the company, gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
After reporting these complaints and issues to the company, the women were not receiving any help or seeing any changes, so they took it upon themselves to fix the problem. Their solution was to send around a survey to the female employees and send it to the CEO, Mark Parker.
About one month after the survey was delivered and in the weeks following, at least six top male executives either left the company or announced that they would be leaving the company. One of which was the president of the Nike brand, Trevor Edwards. Other top positions have since been vacated.
As several top male executives have been resigning, more women are being promoted into senior leadership and executive roles.
Nike is also in the process of reviewing its human resources division and the operation of it.
Today, Thursday May 2, Parker called for an all-staff meeting in which he apologized for the “corporate culture that excluded some staff.” In the email invite to the meeting, Parker said he wanted “everyone to know that [he’s] personally committed to making Nike a place where everyone can thrive in an environment of respect, empathy, and equal opportunity for all.”
From a public relations point of view, Parker’s actions were acceptable. Because the human resources department was not able to handle the complaints in the first place, the women had to take action and gain the attention of the CEO before any changes were officially made. The resigning and voluntary retirement of handfuls of executives and employees after the delivery of the survey shows that Parker didn’t take things lightly.
All-staff meetings for a company of that size is also rare, therefore showing that Parker cares about the company and wants to make things right. His statement from the email was carefully worded but it stated what he wants the company to be. It also suggested that Nike hadn’t previously been a “place where everyone can thrive…”
It is commonplace, when crisis or scandals occur within companies, for CEOs to step down or resign from their position. So why hasn’t Parker stepped down? There wasn’t too much magnitude to this issue. Sure, it is being talked about, but Parker took the necessary steps to resolve the issue within weeks of receiving the survey. I don’t think he tried to cover it up in any way after receiving the survey. Action was taken. The most important being the rare all-staff meeting held to apologize to employees.
It will be important for Parker to keep his words and insure the company really is an “environment of respect, empathy and equal opportunity.”