Nike Cites Its Commitment to Inclusiveness as Reason for Leaders' Departures

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek March 23, 2018

Behavioral issues inconsistent with Nike Inc.'s values led to the resignation of two of its top executives last week, said Mark Parker, Nike chairman and CEO, in a conference call Thursday. Trevor Edwards, the company's brand president, and Jayme Martin, vice president and general manager of global categories, stepped down last week.

Parker didn't give specifics about why Edwards and Martin left, but in his quarterly earning conference, he noted that the company "became aware of some behavioral issues that are inconsistent with Nike's values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment. I am committed to ensure we have an environment where every Nike employee can have a positive experience and reach their full potential," USA Today reported.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Edwards and Martin "protected male subordinates who engaged in behavior that was demeaning to female colleagues ... Their lieutenants bullied people who weren't in their group, this person said, such as women and individuals from foreign countries."

And last year, a group of female employees at Nike  circulated an informal survey about alleged inappropriate behavior by men at the world's largest sportswear maker.

SHRM Online has collected the following stories from its archives and other news outlets about the seismic societal change in attitude toward inappropriate workplace behavior and how it's affecting the way organizations deal with it.   

Nike Departures Reflect Larger Cultural Shift in #MeToo Era: Retail Analysts  

The departure of two top Nike executives speaks to a larger cultural issue, said Liz Dunn, founder and chief executive officer of Pro4ma, a forecasting and analytics firm for retailers.

"We're seeing it all over corporate America," Dunn told CNBC on March 16, referring to issues of workplace misconduct in the era of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

"This speaks to the culture at Nike, that two individuals looked the other way," she said, referencing a Wall Street Journal story that Edwards and Martin reportedly exhibited demeaning behavior toward female and foreign colleagues. While the company appears to have addressed the issues internally "there are cultural changes that need to occur" there, she said. 

[SHRM members-only form: Sexual Harassment Policy and Complaint/Investigation Procedure]    

What 30 Companies That Make Up Dow Industrials Are Doing to Address Sexual-Harassment Claims 

The movement to address the widespread prevalence of sexual harassment and even assault is creeping into the boardrooms of prominent corporations — but it's not clear yet whether companies are updating their policies when it comes to dealing with such claims.

Many will handle such allegations by having HR perform an internal investigation. If the claims look to be true, the victim will get some sort of financial payout, while the harasser will be reprimanded—or fired, if the allegations are particularly egregious.
Some companies have chosen a newer approach — one that gets to the core of the company's culture. In these instances, the companies are instilling a sense of equity across the organization.
(Market Watch)

How Companies Are Grappling with Sexual Harassment—From Firings to Oversight Panels 

Firings, forced resignations, independent investigations and HR-led oversight panels are some of the ways companies across the nation are dealing with revelations that their employees have engaged in sexual harassment.

Can these measures help to prevent future misconduct? 
(SHRM Online)  

Viewpoint: It's Time to Take a New Approach to Sexual Harassment Prevention  

I asked senior HR professionals, employment attorneys and others the following question: What must we do to eradicate workplace sexual harassment? 
(SHRM Online)   

HR's Culture Shift: Tackling Workplace Sexual Harassment While Navigating Legal Definitions

Changing the workplace culture and having a commitment from upper management for a supportive and respectful culture are the two most important factors in curbing sexual harassment, according to a survey that included 409 HR and benefits professionals.

HR professionals were significantly more likely than respondents in other professions to say those are vital to preventing inappropriate workplace behavior. 
(Employee Benefit News)  

Sexual Harassment Prevention Starts with Cultural Change, SHRM CEO Says

Creating and maintaining a harassment-free workplace is not just a legal priority, but is also essential for a healthy workplace, said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

"HR can be a social force for good," he said, speaking Jan. 24 to the California Legislature's Joint Committee on Rules Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response.
(SHRM Online)   

The Damaging, Incalculable Price of Sexual Harassment 

The total costs paid by companies in fighting or settling sexual harassment cases are difficult to calculate, partly because companies often prefer to settle out of court with the alleged victims signing non-disclosure agreements. 
(Market Watch)   

Workplace Harassment Resources 

Allegations of workplace harassment have swept the working world. To help HR with training, policies and many other aspects of responding to inappropriate behaviors in the workplace, we've created this resource center. SHRM also shares its perspective on the topic through SHRM Blog posts and media interviews. 
(SHRM Online)

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