Nike Holds Meeting To Address Problems With Sexism In Company

Posted April 6, 2018 by Mary McGinley

On March 20th, hundreds of Nike employees gathered within the company’s Tiger Woods Center to hear a message from their top executives. That message was one emphasizing that the company’s culture needed to change.

According to an article appearing on the Wall Street Journal website, the assembly was called after a shakeup in the top ranks of Nike’s leadership 5 days before.

Nike workers had expressed concerns that top levels of the company were rarely represented by women.  The stated goal was for men within Nike to become “better allies for their female coworkers”. Former employees at Nike had described the company’s culture as having become similar to that of a boy’s club in terms of advancement and pay.

Among the number of panelists was 30-year Nike veteran, Elliot Hill.  Having been brought up by a single mother, Hill was particularly sensitive to the issue. “I’m not here because of the brand or because of the athletes or because of the product. I’m here because of the people.” Hill said.

Nike is said to be taking a thorough examination of all aspects of its HR department and will begin initiating a mandatory manager training program.

David Ayre was hired from Pepsico Inc. as a direct report to the CEO as the head of HR at Nike, in 2007.  Over the years there had been complaints from workers at the company that Ayre had been both condescending and demeaning to others within the company. Ayers agreed to seek counseling and met with fellow C-suite execs at Nike and admitted that his behavior had to change.

Just last year, a second investigation within Nike was launched regarding Mr. Ayer’s behavior after a complaint was lodged that he was again creating a hostile work environment. Ayer was informed that he was no longer able to stay at Nike. Ayer’s retirement was announced a short time later.  The promotion 19-year veteran at Nike, Monique Matheson, a former chief talent and diversity officer, would replace Ayers was announced the next day.

Around the same time, a company survey regarding pay equity, inappropriate workplace behavior, diversity and other issues was sent out on behalf of C-suite executives in order to get a deeper understanding of the underlying issues.

The result of the company-wide survey is believed to be what led to the shakeup within Nike last month.