You’d think that an iconic international company like Nike would have so many systems in place to prevent inappropriate and illegal workplace behavior that it would be rare. However, nearly a dozen executives have recently left the company amid widespread allegations of harassment and discrimination directed at women in the company.
Among the executives who have left in the wake of a widespread internal investigation are those responsible for some of the most high-profile departments and business categories for the iconic shoe and apparel maker. One of them had even been seen as a potential successor to the current chief executive, Mark Parker.
So far, the 62-year-old chief executive is still there. Nike’s board of directors hasn’t made a public statement about his future or about the investigation in general. Most — but not all — of the ousted executives have been men. The departures of five of the 11 who left the company were announced earlier this month.
The investigation and the resulting exodus of those in the highest ranks of the company occurred very quickly. It all began with an informal survey by some female employees regarding workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. The group presented their findings to Parker. The first resignation occurred 10 days later.
A subsequent report by The New York Times of complaints by female Nike employees was based on interviews with over 50 women who worked or work for the company. They talked of being sexually harassed, having to visit strip clubs and other indignities. They also claimed that they had been marginalized and their ambitions thwarted. Many said they weren’t taken seriously when they went to human resources with their complaints.
Parker has promised employees that he and Nike are taking steps to diversify the workplace, build a more collaborative environment and work toward equal pay.
This case shows just how much can be accomplished in a short time if companies make ending harassment and discrimination a priority. Unfortunately, too many people see no improvement in conditions, no matter how far up in their company they take their grievances. Sometimes, legal action is the only way to get justice.
Source: The New York Times, “5 More Nike Executives Are Out Amid Inquiry Into Harassment Allegations,” Julie Creswell and Kevin Draper, May 08, 2018