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For a company that loves to lecture other people about social justice, Nike is not very good at social justice.
Documents unsealed last month in a gender discrimination lawsuit against the sportswear giant reveal rampant sexual misconduct among Nike’s executives. These documents include testimony, executive emails, speech crafts and correspondence between lawyers. A judge denied the case class-action status, shrinking the pool of plaintiffs from 5,200 to the original 14 who filed the lawsuit.
So let’s dive in, shall we?
A civil complaint filed in U.S. Distric Court in Oregon revealed that Nike executives often preyed on female employees. One employee even reported walking in on an executive receiving oral sex from a female subordinate in the campus gym.
Another woman who worked at the company recalled being told by male co-workers to “dress sexier” and “show some skin.” Also according to the documents, male execs would get “sloppy drunk” during business trips and put their arms around their female employees.
Other women were invited to company dinners with higher-ranking men who were “hoping to sleep with them,” the lawsuit alleges.
Female Employees Circulated Anonymous Surveys
Apparently, the rampant sexual harassment and gender discrimination were no secret. One woman wrote in a survey that Nike was a “giant men’s sports team, where favoritism prevails and females couldn’t possibly play in the sandbox.”
One female employee said she was once told by a male executive, “Maybe if you dressed nicer I would be on time. Take that baggy jacket off and show some skin.”
“I kept it to myself because of who he is at the company,” the woman wrote.
And she’s not alone. According to Business Insider, women often didn’t report these incidents to HR because they felt they weren’t taken seriously.
“(Employee resources) and HR at this company are a joke,” one woman wrote in a survey.
“Females at this company have felt very little power to change a culture and environment that has been and continues to be disrespectful to women,” another woman wrote.
Then-CEO Mark Parker Received The Surveys In 2018
After getting the damning surveys, Parker announced a management reshuffle and apologized to employees via e-mail.
“Over the past few weeks, we’ve become aware of reports occurring within our organization that do not reflect our core values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment,” Parker wrote.
Whoopsie. We heard you were degraded, belittled and forced to give blow jobs in the gym. Sorry ‘bout all that!
Moral Grandstanding: Just Do It
Since 2018, Nike has made an effort to include more women in its management structure, and the percentage of females serving as vice presidents has risen from 36 to 43.
Nike has also denied allegations of a gender pay gap in which women were paid $11,000 less a year than men who did the same jobs. The corporate giant has also suspended operations in Russia (where Nike gets less than 1 percent of its revenue, anyway) as a noble display of support for the Ukranian people.
Just wait until they find out what’s happening in China!
Personally, as a woman, I’m excited to see another empty symbolic gesture from a company that absolutely does not care about me. I mean – women being treated like human beings in the workplace is totally cool as long as we’re still making money, right?
Ah, Nike. The Goddess of Slave Labor, Equality and Female Empowerment.