How Jordan Brand’s Commitment to Women & Black Community Led to Its 2022 FNAA Win

On Nov. 30, Jordan Brand will be honored as Brand of the Year at the 36th annual FN Achievement Awards. Below is an article from the magazine’s Nov. 28 print issue about its continued focus on the underserved woman consumer and uplifting the Black community. 

Eclipsing $5 billion in sales is enough to define your year as strong, as is signing sports standouts such as NFL wide receiver Deebo Samuel and NBA rookie Paolo Banchero, or delivering countless hit collaborations with the likes of J Balvin and A Ma Maniére.

But if you ask president Craig Williams, the story of Jordan Brand this year was one of people.

“We try to do the right thing for our community and consumers. Our efforts are focused on that, and along the way, we sell a few shoes and some apparel,” Williams told FN.

That sentiment is echoed by the brand’s top partners. “Jordan Brand consistently lives and actions its values. It’s a testament to who MJ is and the expectation he sets with leadership,” said James Whitner, owner and founder of The Whitaker Group. “Jordan Brand is connected to the hearts of the Black experience — it can’t be gentrified.”

Although the athletic label made strides across the board in 2022, one could argue its biggest gains were with women. A June earnings call for parent company Nike Inc. revealed that Jordan Brand’s women’s business has tripled since fiscal 2020.

To bolster its presence with female customers this year, the brand debuted its global Women’s Collective in March, featuring 33 people from community-focused and creative industries, who participated in retreats, panels, events and mentorship.

This year, Jordan Brand also made key hires to ensure women are front and center on the executive team. In October, for instance, it tapped Tonia Jones, a 33-year veteran of Nike Inc., as its global VP and GM of women’s. Jones has held several roles at Jordan Brand over the years, including GM of Asia Pacific Latin America from October 2019 to November 2020.

And on the athlete front, Jordan Brand this month named 18-year-old Kiki Rice to its roster. Rice, who has committed to play basketball at UCLA, is Jordan Brand’s first name, image and likeness (NIL) signing.

“Women’s has been a stated priority for the business for the last several years,” Williams said. “We’ve been very intentional about highlighting her, being intentional about experiences that are focused on her — a complete journey. If we’re doing it right, you will feel the impact of everything we’re doing with women, and it should be expected because we want women to see themselves in this brand alongside men.”

Kiki Rice, Jordan Brand, Jordan, Michael Jordan, partnerships, athletes, college athletes, college basketball, basketball, womens basketball, NIL
Kiki Rice for Jordan Brand.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Jordan Brand

Aside from those efforts, Jordan Brand has also continued to focus its energy on the Black community. Most notably, the company announced in August that it has entered a 20-year partnership with Howard University, a historically Black college and university. Together they aim to create academic and athletic opportunities that elevate the Black community.

“We want to build a legacy of excellence and influence with Black youth in this country. Howard is a perfect showcase for that,” Williams said. “And 20 years was not an accident. It represents a long- term commitment to do great work together on the field with performance in sport and off the field by partnering with students in a way to lead our culture in our communities moving forward.”

What’s more, Jordan Brand revealed in February that it was accepting applications for qualified nonprofits as part of its 10-year, $100 million Black Community Commitment with NBA icon Michael Jordan that began in June 2020. Since its inception, Williams said roughly $17 million has been awarded to organizations across North America.

This year, Jordan Brand partnered with 24 new community grantees, raising its total to 42 grassroots organizations.

“We know that there are localized opportunities for us to address systematic racism, to advance causes around social justice or economic empowerment. It’s important to partner with great community organizations, grassroots organizations that are doing the important work,” Williams said. “This validates the important concerns that local and civic leaders have in neighborhoods across the country. If we can partner hand in hand with those guys to help their efforts be that much more successful, we’re happy to do it.”

Jordan Brand’s latest application cycle for community grants is open now and will close on Giving Tuesday.

Coming off a banner 2022, Williams said the brand’s outlook is even brighter. In addition to the continued growth in the women’s business, the exec is expecting big things with Jordan Brand’s apparel business (which has grown more than 50% since fiscal 2020) and it is making strides internationally.

“We’ve been consistently focused on telling great and resonant stories in Europe, Greater China, across Asia Pacific and Latin America, along with North America,” said Williams. “We’ve already seen the benefits of that focus over the last couple of years.”

For 36 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2022 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Caleres, FDRA, Merrell, Vibram and Volumental. 

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