Nike: Ethics Versus Reputation in the #MeToo Era
(8 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
In March 2018, a report on workplace harassment issues was brought to the chief executive officer of Nike, Inc. (Nike), Mark Parker. The report was a result of a covert survey conducted by the female employees at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, after the company’s human resources (HR) department failed to respond to the women's repeated complaints. Soon, several senior executives left Nike. Although Parker took several steps to strengthen HR, some employees wondered whether the women’s complaints had been handled appropriately. Nevertheless, according to experts, the behaviour the women described did not amount to harassment in legal terms. Was Parker’s response to the survey a matter of reputation management or of genuine ethical concern? Why did the HR department not respond to the female employees’ complaints earlier? If a case of harassment in legal terms could not be made against the executives, should they have been let go? If senior executives like Edwards committed or condoned harassment, should Parker allow those executives to receive severance packages?
The case is intended for undergraduate- or graduate-level courses on human resource management or organizational behaviour. The case deals with an organization’s top management and human resources (HR) department's role in dealing with workplace harassment. It also discusses gender discrimination, especially at the senior executive level, and examines whether an organization’s response to this issue is based on a reputation management strategy or on ethical concerns. After completing the case, students will be able to do the following:
- Understand workplace culture and its impact on firm performance.
- Critically analyze the response of a firm to workplace harassment issues, either as a reputation management strategy or as an ethics management strategy.
- Discuss the role and effectiveness of human resources departments in workplace harassment issues.
- Understand the reasons for gender discrimination at the senior management level.
- Discuss the need for severance payments when executives resign and are not terminated.
- Analyze the impact of the exit of senior management on a firm’s performance.
United States, Large, 2018
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