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Not A Role Model: Nike Pledges to Address Company’s Gender and Race Inequity Issues

Topics: Current Events
Women Nikes
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Nike, Inc., the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel – and one of the most famous brands in the world – is pledging to change its corporate culture, which had been likened to a frat house by employees.

According to a memo Nike’s HR Chief Monique Matheson sent to employees on Wednesday of last week, Nike “has failed to gain traction” in hiring and promoting more women and minorities to senior-level positions.

As reported by CNBC, only twenty-nine percent of Nike’s vice presidents are women, and, in the US, only 16 percent are people of color. (Nike only tracks race and ethnicity information in the US.)

Nike also revealed its gender pay gap data, but only for UK employees (In the UK, companies with 250 employees or more are legally required to report and publish their gender pay gap figures). The company found that, on average, UK men earned 10 percent more in hourly pay than women who work in the wholesale division.

If you’d like to help eliminate gender inequity, join us on Tuesday, April 10 – online or in person – for Equal Power Day at PayScale HQ!

Blame The Opportunity Gap

Nike attributed the pay disparity to having fewer UK women in higher-paying senior-level positions, which, if they’re using it as an excuse, isn’t exactly a good one. This is a classic example of the opportunity gap, which is explained in PayScale’s The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2018:

“Over the course of their career, men move into higher level roles at significantly higher rates than women. By mid-career, men are 70 percent more likely to be in executive roles than women. By late career, men are 142 percent more likely to be in VP or C-suite roles.”

What Nike is saying is that their gender pay gap is a result of a gender opportunity gap, but both are reflections of an inequitable corporate culture.

Matheson went on to say that Nike’s, “…hiring and promotion decisions are not changing senior-level representation as quickly as (they) wanted,” and that, “efforts to increase representation of women and minorities will start at the vice president level in order to spur a trickle-down effect…”.

This announcement comes after a tough period for Nike. In March, two top executives left the company after rumors surfaced of internal complaints focusing on inappropriate workplace behavior. And on March 15, Nike’s chief executive Mark Parker, sent a memo to employees referencing, “…behavior occurring within our organization that (does) not reflect our core values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment…”.

The #metoo Movement

Gender inequity and the gender pay gap have been prominent in the news lately, with recent reports of actresses Michelle Williams and Claire Foy being paid significantly less than their male costars. At the same time, the #metoo movement has exploded into the cultural consciousness, demonstrating the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.

This cultural shift is putting pressure on organizations of all types – from Nike, to Fox News, to the White House – to shift their culture to one of equity and respect.

To learn more about the Gender Pay Gap, read our report, The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2018.

And if you’d like to help fix the problem, join us on Tuesday, April 10 – online or in person – for Equal Power Day at PayScale HQ.

We’d love for you to join us.

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