|JUST DOING IT?
CEO Phil Knight answers questions on
Nike's new labor initiatives.
May 22, 1998
in this forum:
Will Nike agree to the use of a 3rd party auditor? What is Nike's position on uninionization in their Asian factories? How do we know the incidents in the factories are not an uncommon practice of there culture? Do any other shoe manufacturers do it differently? Why are you defensive when you are supplying jobs to people? Are you providing a livable wage? Don't you think it's a little hypocritical to be making these changes now? How does your product get marked up so high? Do Nike critics have another agenda? Andrew Mannion of Melbourne, Australia asks: Don't you think it's a little hypocritical to be making these changes now ? After all, if the improvements to work practices and conditions are so important to the workers why now and not many years ago ? Of course, I expect you'll have some well-rehearsed, p.r. driven response - but it really comes down to profits doesn't it ? You were making profits exploiting the workers before; now your profits are declining so you pretend to embrace reform to show how caring Nike is. Please, convince I'm wrong on this, because I would like to believe that the single goal of major corporations is not profit-making. Sure, I understand that businesses are set-up to make money, but don't you have a personal sense of ethics as well ?
A Spokesperson from Nike responds:
Nike's corporate responsibility is as important to me individually as it is to the Nike family collectively. We strongly believe we have a moral obligation to continually work to improve factory conditions. We also believe we have an obligation to increase opportunity to those women and men who manufacture Nike products. That's why we announced that Nike is expanding an education program so worker can take middle and high school equivalency classes. And, Andrew, by 2002 Nike will not order any products from factories that do not offer some type of after-hours education program. Also, at the National Press Club, Phil Knight announced that Nike was expanding a micro-enterprise program to reach 1,000 families each in Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand. These micro-loans are used so women who do not work in Nike factories can start small businesses such as pig farming and making rice paper. The success our pilot program demonstrated in Vietnam last year has shown us that this worthwhile program should be expanded.