Humiliation, hassles… Cascade of departures of senior executives at Nike

The equipment supplier Nike is facing an exodus unprecedented of leaders for a little over a month as a result of the testimonies of employees, mostly women, against the environment as “toxic”, marked by discrimination and harassment moral and sexual.

Five managers of high rank have recently left the company. Among them, a woman, Helen Kim, who was vice-president of operations for the north-east in North America.

“This is proof that the general problem falls within the moral harassment or abusive conduct in the workplace, and that he ignores gender and colour of skin. This is just cruelty,” says Dr. Gary Namie, who has created a specialized institute on the ill-being at work, Workplace Bullying Institute.

The departures are, according to a source close to the dossier, the result of the first findings of an internal investigation, launched in march, after the release of the word of employees in the wake of the movement #MeToo born of the scandal, Harvey Weinstein. Nike has a regulation anti-harassment.

Humiliation and abuse

At least eleven senior executives have left Nike for march, in which Trevor Edwards, an African-American, president of the Nike brand and considered as the successor of Mark Parker, the current CEO. In-house, Mr. Edwards, who has spent over 25 years at Nike, was known to humiliate his subordinates in the public meetings. Everything is party of the ras-le-bol of a group of employees, who circulated an internal survey revealing the abuse and inequality between men and women in matters of promotion.

The survey, which gathered the testimonies of female and male employees, complained of in a general way the culture of “macho” of the company, a sort of “boys club”, and the inertia of the human resources department.

Some are state of out-of-office colleagues ending up in strip clubs, managers, men claiming to have condoms in their bag, comment on the breasts of a woman written in an email sent to the interested, a recurrence of derogatory and humiliating. An employee has assigned to the New York Times that his supervisor had treated of the “stupid slut” but had not been sanctioned despite the fact that she had reported the incident to the director of human resources.

“We all have an obligation — non-negotiable — to create an environment and a culture of respect and inclusion,” said the may 3, CEO Mark Parker to employees. “It is his plan. It is its corporate culture”, criticizes Gary Namie, who insists that the abuses complained of have been committed under the reign of Mr. Parker, and urges the boss to take the consequences.

Silence of the sports stars

The financial impact is negligible for now: the action has not been affected in the stock Exchange, the initiatives of boycott, launched on the social networks have not taken.

“It is possible that we could see an impact on sales in the short term”, however, considers Victor Ahluwalia, expert at CFRA Research, especially as the wave of departures coincide with the offensive of Nike with women through the concept “Nike Unlaced”. The brand must also find new talent, “which will not be easy,” Sam Poser, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group.

None of the prestigious ambassadors of Nike — the tennis players Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, basketball player LeBron James, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo — is not yet expressed on the subject. This case is a stinging setback for Nike, including the famous slogan “Just do It” is supposed to encourage millions of young people around the world to pursue their dreams. The oem has also given an image of “cool”, a progressive and a defender of the values of equality and justice, as evidenced by a campaign in February.

The management has received over 43,000 responses to its survey and has begun to make changes. It has recently promoted two women to high office, Amy Mountain, and especially Kellie Leonard, high responsible for diversity and integration. Currently only 38% of managers are women and approximately 23% are non-caucasian. The group of Beaverton (Oregon, north-west) also promises to review the training of managers, to change its hiring procedures and set up interviews for individual assessment on a regular basis.

“The departures of leaders mark a significant shift in the approach to the management and to herald a change of practice, but it is still premature to affirm it,” says David Yamada, a professor of labour law at the Suffolk University in Boston.

(Source : AFP)

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