Nike Still a Top Place to Work Despite Discrimination Lawsuits, Previous Internal Issues

When it comes to Nike Inc., one thing has become abundantly clear over the past year: It will take a lot to make a dent in the company’s market cap and public perception.

The firm, which in the past year admitted to internal behaviorial challenges, saw a highly publicized on-court sneaker explosion and is even embroiled in several lawsuits alleging gender and racial discrimination, continues to ride high.

Just today, a new report by LinkedIn ranks the Swoosh among the top 50 companies where people in the United States want to work now. Nike sits as a relative outlier on the list, dominated by internet, digital media and technology firms. Google parent Alphabet Inc. lands in the top spot, followed by Facebook at No. 2 and e-commerce behemoth Amazon in the third slot.

LinkedIn editor-in-chief Daniel Roth said the company analyzed “billions of actions taken by LinkedIn members around the world” to compile the list, which also sees hospitality-industry disrupter Airbnb, ride-sharing service Uber and tech giant Apple Inc. make the top 10. Roth added that the job-search platform also studied U.S. members’ anonymized actions across four main pillars: interest in the company, engagement with the company’s employees, job demand and employee retention.

With a global head count of roughly 73,000, Nike took the 45th spot on the list as LinkedIn hailed the company for its recent “moves to create a more welcoming office for women and minorities while increasing accountability across the organization.”

The list also called out Nike’s recent launch of an anonymous hotline for employees, as well as its decision to implement “unconscious bias training” and bring on its first chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Despite a year of publicized ups and downs, Nike has continued to display immunity to significant business disruption, with its market cap holding steady at $130 billion and a number of surveys finding a persistent preference for the brand despite internal challenges.

After a wave of executive departures in April 2018 — largely believed to be due to behavioral issues at the firm — as well as admittance by management that the firm had fallen short of promoting women and people of color, one study found that women continued to have a favorable view of the brand.

After the executive shakeup, the company unveiled a series of seemingly aggressive steps to improve its internal culture — most of which were highlighted in the new LinkedIn index — including a pledge last July to raise salaries for 10 percent of its workforce to help correct pay inequity.

Still, a recent suit against the company over alleged racial discrimination — filed by Ahmer Inam, who worked as a senior director in data analytics at Nike — claimed that much of the company’s efforts to address internal cultural challenges, including an employee hotline for complaints, have been ineffective.

A spokesperson for Nike had declined to comment on Inam’s suit but noted that “Nike is committed to creating a culture of empowerment and respect where everyone can succeed and contribute to our success.”

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