Nike: Managing Ethical Missteps - Essay Example

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From the fact that it is a market leader, Nike has over the years attracted greater scrutiny to its supply chain right from the locales of its contract manufacturing to its retail shops. …
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Nike: Managing Ethical Missteps
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Nike: Managing ethical missteps From the fact that it is a market leader, Nike has over the years attracted greater scrutiny to its supply chain right from the locales of its contract manufacturing to its retail shops. The accusations that the company has been accused of include: deficiencies in health and safety conditions, extremely low wages, and indiscriminate hiring and firing practices. As is that is not enough, Nike operates in the textile industry, which has its own unique set of environmental problems such as: large fossil fuel and raw material consumption; increased water deficits; pollution of land, air, and waterways (Ferrell and Jackson 548). However, Nike has put in place an elaborate program to deal with the environmental and labor issues in all its contracted supplier factories around the world (Bernstein 2). Nike’s CSR initiatives to manage the environmental and labor issues Nike has implemented a new set of corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices to meet these challenges in handling labor and environmental issues through six areas: environmental sustainability, code of conduct, audit tools, factory transparency, corporate responsibility board and philanthropy. Using this multi-pronged approach enabled Nike to evolve through the stages of corporate responsibility from the defensive stage through the compliance stage to the managerial stage. Even though the company has still got a long way to go with regards to fully correcting the labor and environmental issues that plague its supply chain, it still deserves some recognition for making great inroads towards enhancing the quality of life for its workers. For instance, Nike was the first apparel company to publicly disclose the name and locations of its contracted factories that produced licensed collegiate products (Ferrell and Jackson 552). This act of disclosure has encouraged other companies to do the same. Nike is also working with a coalition of companies and labor and human rights groups to draft an industry-wide code of conduct (Ferrell and Jackson 549). However, Bernstein (6) reminds us that in spite of its best anti-sweatshop efforts, Nike has done little to address the two most difficult issues in most cheap-labor countries, which is low wages and unionization. Nike’s best steps going forward Making safer working conditions is good but it does not help if workers get wages of only 20 cents an hour (Bernstein 10). For Nike to truly move from managerial stage to the civil stage of corporate responsibility, it would need to consider implementing five key actions. These actions proposed by Connor (22-70) are: (1) protecting workers who speak honestly about factory conditions; (2) enabling regular, transparent, independent and confidential procedures for monitoring factories and investigating worker complaints; (3) ensuring workers are given decent wages based on the living standards and not based on legal minimum wages; (4) strengthen its code of conduct on working hours; and (5) giving its workers freedom to organize / unionize to enable them to have a stronger voice. Works Cited Bernstein, Aaron. “Online Extra: Nike’s New Game Plan for Sweatshops.” 20 Sept 2004. Web. 16 Apr 2011. Connor, Tim. Still Waiting for Nike to Do It. San Francisco, CA: Global Exchange, 2001. Print. Ferrell, O. C, and Jennifer Jackson. “NIKE: Managing Ethical Missteps - Sweatshops to Leadership in Employment Practices.” Book Title. Place: Publisher, Date. 547-555. Print.  Read More
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