Perhaps it is because I was raised visiting my cousin at Nike’s World Headquarters every summer, roaming the beautiful 175 acre campus, or playing sports in the world class equipment, but I have always had a place in my heart for Nike. After reading the Nike case study, I was pretty upset that the company i held so highly was in fact participating in inhumane practices. They took a stakeholder approach and tried to maximize profits by outsourcing all manufacturing abroad. Their actions contradicted those of a deontological approach or Donaldson’s rights-based theory that every person is entitled to certain rights, no matter their international location. With all of this in mind, a part of me feels a little badly for Nike…after all, they were doing their duty to the stakeholders by making large profits and were not directly responsible for the poor conditions in their suppliers’ factories.
Okay, now that labor scandal was in the past and the most important thing is how they have improved since the incidents in the mid 1990s. In a 2008 MSNBC article, Nike admitted that the conditions of the factories have not improved to the extent promised by the former CEO, Phil Knight. New laws have been put in place and monitoring programs have arose, but the outcome is that many of the managers of supply factories are still employing underage workers with fake identification and excessive working hours. I know that this can be played from both angles that Nike is being ignorant and knew that these events were still going on, but perhaps they are having trouble actually enforcing these in the factories. If the managers of the supply factories are not willing to cooperate fully with the regulations that Nike has put in line, then to how much fault it Nike at? The company also took the time and risk to publish this article and let the world be reminded of the poor working conditions that were used to create their products ten years ago and I think this is a very respectable task.
I am sad because no matter what Nike does, they will still receive the negative criticism of activists such as Jeff Ballinger and others looking to dig up an old story. When searching for blogs related to this topic, I stumbled upon a blog that was fully addressed to just bashing Nike! It was written by a former Nike employee and literally every post was pointing out the flaws in the company. Perhaps I am not looking at the complete situation or letting my memories get in the way, but I do feel sorry for Nike and think that some of these criticisms should just take it down a few notches.