“JUST DO IT” is an inspirational tagline to millions of Nike’s athletic gear customers. But in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR), the company hasn’t always followed its own advice. Recall to what our classmate has presented 2 days ago or click here to see an example of how activists launched an all-out campaign against it because of worker conditions in its supply chain in 1990s.
By now, Nike has ended up in a much better place for its troubles, climbed up to No.13 position in 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2006 Business Ethics Magazine, Spring 2006, Vol. 20 #1.
How Nike Just Did It?
It’s clear that Nike had made some extraordinary errors at the beginning with defensive reaction and ignoring the responsibility. But Nike has come to view the issue as an integral part in its core business strategy and practices and as a major source of learning. In 1996, Nike created its first department specifically responsible for managing its supply chain partners’s compliance with labor standards. And in 1998, Nike established a CSR department. The company to adopt codes of labor conduct, forge alliances with labor and civil society organizations, develop nonfinancial metrics for compliance that are linked to the company’s management and its broader governance, and engage in the international debate about the role of business in society and in public policy. You can find further details here.
Nike is a for-profit-business, and as such is accountable to its shareholders. But the company has taken significant steps in evolving a strategy and practice that shifts it from being an object of civil activism to a key participant in civil society initiatives and processes. The path to CSR that Nike has gone through might be helpful to other companies traverse this same ground. The often mentioned business benefits of CSR are hard to achieve and making business logic out of a deeper sense of CSR requires courageous leadership, insightful learning, and a grounded process for organizational innovation. But the results are remarkable, aren’t they?