SBD/May 29, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Nike's Corporate Responsibility Report Lauded By Some; Critics Question Conditions, Wages

Nike this month released its latest corporate responsibility report, which “shows why many now consider Nike a model citizen,” but critics “aren’t buying it,” according to a cover story by Matthew Kish of the PORTLAND BUSINESS JOURNAL. Nike has “steadily cleaned up its supply chain, reinvented the shoe-making process and more closely monitored its contract factories.” In many ways, Nike’s more-than-two decades of “investment in ‘corporate responsibility’ are blooming, with game-changing products and technologies finally hitting the market.” ClimateCounts, an independent non-profit that scores companies annually on the basis of their voluntary action to reverse climate change, “ranks Nike 89 out of 100 for its efforts to be more sustainable.” Meanwhile, Seattle-based CSRHub COO Cynthia Figge said of Nike, “They’re a star. They’ve been targets for a long time and they’ve worked at this for a long time.” Meanwhile, Nike critics have said that the company has “made improvements in many areas but the company still has environmental, labor and wage issues that need to be addressed.” Critics also claim that Nike’s new corporate responsibility report “devotes scant attention to the biggest issues: low wages and restrictions on unionization.” Complicating matters, Nike “doesn’t own any of the 744 factories -- in 43 countries -- that make its products.” Despite Nike’s efforts, some still “equate the company with poor wages and working conditions.” Nike claims only 1% of the labor issues at its factories "relate to freedom of association, or union rights.” Univ. of Newcastle Lecturer Tim Connor said that “it’s likely a much bigger problem” (PORTLAND BUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/23 issue).
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