Last month, a large group of employees at Adidas protested at the brand's North American headquarters over accusations of racism. In recent weeks, competitor Nike has also had similarly troubling allegations levied its way, albeit via a different medium.
In June, now-deactivated Instagram account @blackatnike emerged with a mission statement of "amplifying Black voices from current and former Nike employees." The page featured anonymous submissions from employees of color with allegations of racism ranging from code words for Black shoppers at retail stores to a calculated plot to sell sneakers for cash in low-income areas where residents hadn't made SNKRS purchases due to a perceived lack of credit cards.
"I trained every Coach in my store and when a new role opened up, I wasn't even considered for the promotion," reads one submission. "When I asked why, I was told I 'wasn't ready,' but not given any real feedback on my performance. They hired a white woman instead. Who had to train her? Me."
"The Monday after George Floyd's murder, we have a meeting of 50-plus employees to discuss the upcoming events for the week," reads another. "The Director leading the session started with, 'Let's not waste time on anything irrelevant,' and then proceeded—business as usual."
As of last night, the account was filled with dozens of other allegations. It was also followed by a number of notable Nike employees. Then, by this morning, the page had been deleted. A Nike spokesperson said that the brand has "no knowledge of who owns the accounts or why they were taken down."
In response to the account itself, a Nike spokesperson issued the following statement:
We’re at our best when every member of the team feels respected, included and heard – when everyone can show up fully as themselves and have the opportunity to do their best work every day. To that end, we’re focused on four key areas across the company: increasing representation at all levels of the organization; providing professional development to support people to advance and grow their careers at Nike; embracing inclusion and belonging as a priority for our culture; and accelerating education to become a more inclusive culture.
Everyone is responsible for adhering to Nike’s Matter of Respect policy, which explicitly prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race. If there are behaviors that violate this, employees have a number of ways to flag and ensure that the behaviors don’t go unchecked. This includes raising the issue with managers, or if employees prefer, they can use the Speak Up portal, or speak directly with HR, HR Direct or Employee Relations. Employees can do so anonymously if they choose. We urge every employee to speak up if an employee experiences something that does not align with Nike’s values and policies.
In addition, we believe that diversity of people and perspectives fuels the best ideas. We continue to strengthen our recruitment, promotion and retention of diverse talent throughout the company and to drive the change we want to see. We release our Impact Report annually, which provides information on steps we are taking and have taken to reinforce our commitment.
Nike’s diversity sourcing and recruitment programs have had a strong impact, as we continually increase our connectivity and exposure to new partners and organizations in the market. Our efforts have primarily focused on impacting key groups that we measure from a representation standpoint, namely women globally and underrepresented groups in the United States. In partnership with the Executive Leadership Council, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, the NSBE, National Black MBA Association, Code2040, and a host of other corporate partners, we continue to sharpen our focus on hiring more black leaders across all levels at the company, creating a strong brand with this community and driving strong hiring results year over year.
In the past year, Nike increased VP-level representation for U.S. underrepresented groups by two percentage points to 21%. While this is good progress, we know there is more work to do. We will continue to increase representation and strengthen our culture of belonging.