When it comes to cleaning house, Nike seems to be taking its “just do it” motto to heart—finally.
Since reports of “workplace misconduct” surfaced at Nike Inc. last month as the result of an informal survey circulated by female employees about male-perpetrated discrimination and inappropriate workplace behavior, nine executives have parted ways with the Portland, Ore. athletic giant, including vice president of footwear Greg Thompson’s abrupt departure yesterday as the latest of three dismissals this week alone.
In Nike’s most recent earnings call, CEO Mark Parker first made mention of the trouble brewing at the most valuable brand in sports. “We became aware of some behavioral issues that are inconsistent with Nike’s values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment,” Parker said on the March call. Nike brand president Trevor Edwards—seen as Parker’s likely successor—was the first casualty, though he remains an advisor to the sportswear company until his August retirement. Parker said the decision to part ways with Edwards would “further evolve our culture and restructure our leadership.”
Jayme Martin’s firing followed quickly on the heels of the Edwards news; staffers lodged numerous allegations against the now-former vice president and general manager of global categories, according to The Wall Street Journal. Both men were said to have protected male employees who harassed and demeaned female colleagues and intimidated those from overseas, the Journal reported.
Earlier this week, diversity chief Antoine Andrews quit as Nike admitted failure in hiring and promoting women and minorities. “I’m committed to ensure that we have an environment where every Nike employee can have a positive experience and reach their full potential,” Parker told analysts on the earnings call.
Next came a pair of firings as senior brand director for Nike Basketball in North America Vikrant Singh and Daniel Tawiah, vice president of global brand digital-marketing innovation, were also dismissed this week. Singh, who had been with Nike for his entire career, joined the company as a marketing intern after graduating from the University of Georgia in 2004, according to his LinkedIn profile.
And now Thompson, who reportedly had been with Nike for decades, is out and his LinkedIn profile has been set to private amid the company’s ongoing culture probe.
On the March earnings call, Parker alluded to Nike’s “deep leadership bench.” Given the many departures, it looks like Nike will be calling on its reserves for the near future.
Still, there are indications that Nike could use some fresh talent at the top, as it looks to ward off competition from Adidas and other brands capturing consumer interest and wallet share. Though Nike’s maintained its spot at the top of the athletic pack and is more valuable that its German rival by more than 2x, Adidas has notched a number of bestselling sneakers recently, gaining market share at Nike’s expense and earning mindshare with Millennials and Gen Z.
Nike’s recent investments in digital startups indicate that it’s looking to tech to gain an edge over the competition.
According to Barron’s, Sesquehanna International Group’s equity research analyst Sam Poser warned investors that there’s “still another shoe to drop” and to expect additional dismissals in the months ahead.