Just Do It Already

It was 13 years ago when Phil Knight announced that Nike was going to require all of its contract factories to follow a more stringent set of labor practices.  These new standards included a higher minimum worker age, a lower amount of maximum weekly hours, and adhering to OSHA clean air standards, among others.  Nike’s promises did a lot to quiet its critics but have failed to do much else.  The large-scale anti-Nike protests have stopped for the most part but Nike’s labor abuses have not.

As recently as July 2011, there have been reports that workers in Nike’s Indonesian factories are being abused by their managers and Nike itself has even come out and said that two thirds of their factories in China do not meet the standards they proclaimed in 1998.  The biggest criticism of Nike in the 1990s, extremely low worker wages, was never even addressed in Nike’s initial promises about worker welfare and the company’s profits continue to soar.  At least with the other issues Nike pretended to care and that it would take action.

It makes me wonder what has happened to all of Nike’s critics of the 90s.  Despite Nike’s promises, conditions in its factories have scarcely improved but nobody seems to care anymore.  Why is it suddenly okay for Nike to take advantage of its workers overseas?  As we saw in the 90s, Nike is only going to make an effort to improve the lives of its workers when there abuses affect their wallet.  The public and the government need to remind Nike that exploitation of labor in the developing world is not okay and hit them where it hurts to make sure they get the message.

This entry was posted in Business, Cases (Real World), Ethics, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Just Do It Already

  1. JWitty says:

    Interesting. I wrote my paper last week about the Nike case, and noted in the intro that people tend to forgive atrocities if you make up for it with continued high performance. While I was referring to athletes (*cough cough Michael Vick), and actually was using the point to say the same does not occur for brands, this post makes me think that I was possibly wrong. Do you remember when Slade mentioned that Nike’s stock price has risen consistently since the 1998 press conference with Phil Knight? While Nike’s labor practices might only be minimally better than they were, have people simply stopped caring because the high product quality makes up for it? I for one have not forgotten. I agree that the public needs reminding

  2. meghancrawford says:

    I find it very remarkable that protests have stopped and the stress of the media and government has taken a step back. If we continue to let Nike get away with its practices, other corporations may start outsourcing its manufacturing as well, due to the huge financial benefits. If we as society and the government are saying that we have given up and no longer are going to try to protest child labor, we are clearly sending the wrong message.

  3. RickE says:

    I also find it interesting that now more than ever, consumers have a lot of choice in their athletic gear. Nike, as casual clothing, has always had competitors but you never really saw big competitors to their athletic lines. Under Armour is rapidly growing in size and popularity and makes many athletic products that directly compete Nike products, and Adidas is bigger brand then ever after buying out Reebok. Yet somehow we still see a majority of consumers choosing to buy Nike.

  4. Slade says:

    Just a little information for everyone talking about Nike is the only who has issues with labor… Adidas, because it is based in Germany, doesn’t have to deal with as much pressure from American media, but its factories are kept secret from the public so no one even knows where their apparel is made. If other companies didn’t do things like this, companies like Adidas would be blown away by Nike, but they remain in the picture, because, although there is no physical proof (because we don’t know where their factories exist), they are likely doing the same exact things that Nike is doing. Not only that, but to add some more drama to the mix, the creators of Nike started it in the 20s and were in the Nazi party. They were brothers who split up, and one brother stuck with what became known as Adidas and the other brother started what would eventually become Puma. I haven’t don’t the research but you can bet that Puma is going to be right there with Nike and Adidas most likely. Just a little food for thought guys.

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