Here’s How Nike Plans to Fix its Company Culture

The Swoosh is taking action.

Weeks after two back-to-back executive departures and a confirmation from CEO Mark Parker that the firm was addressing behavioral issues, Nike’s head of HR is laying out key facets of the company’s plan for reform.

In an email statement to FN today, Monique Matheson, Nike chief human resources officer, said the firm is “committed to creating a culture where everyone can succeed and contribute to our success and we know diversity drives a culture of inclusion and empowerment.”

As an initial step, Matheson said that for the first time in the company’s history, Nike yesterday shared data regarding representation for women and people of color at the VP level at the company. (The Wall Street Journal yesterday got a hold of an internal memo from Matheson in which she disclosed those key figures to the staff, pointing out that 29 percent of the company’s vice presidents are women, even though the company’s global workforce is evenly split between men and women. The figures are now available on Nike’s corporate site, along with other data on minority representation at the company.)

“These results demonstrate that we need to accelerate representation of women and people of color at leadership levels within the company,” Matheson said in today’s statement.

Specifically, Nike’s HR chief said the firm will “hold its leaders accountable for representation growth” within their respective teams and develop diverse talent with new targeted training programs.

Nike will also invest in a dedicated diversity sourcing team and endeavors to have a diverse slate of candidates when hiring. To that end, it plans to “create more inclusive job descriptions,” enable a blind resume process and eliminate the practice of collecting of candidate salary history, according to Matheson.

The world’s leading athletic firm will also accelerate its manager training around inclusivity, Matheson said, “ensuring that all Nike managers are clear on our expectations around culture and move more quickly on our goal to require all managers to go through Unconscious Bias training.”

Last month, Nike announced the departures of Trevor Edwards, brand president, and Jayme Martin, VP and GM of global categories,  just days apart. At the same time, an internal memo from CEO Mark Parker acknowledged that there had been reports of “behavior occurring within our organization that do not reflect our core values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment.”

While Nike has not gone into detail publicly about the nature of the misconduct it has experienced, in today’s #MeToo era — which has drawn significant attention to women in the workplace — more and more companies are facing heightened pressure to address behavioral issues in top management.

In the current climate, many experts have suggested that an effective remedy for corporate reform — which sees women and other minorities treated more fairly at work — is to create more diversity in the upper ranks of companies.

Experts have also advocated for management training to help leaders become aware of and address unconscious biases — or stereotypes about certain groups of people that can form outside of a person’s awareness.

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