Nike – Better in what World?
Nike’s “better world” campaign is the company’s latest corporate citizenship platform with goals for sustainable design, giving back in the community and improving the overall lives of it’s employees by focusing on factors other than bottom line. Unfortunately for Nike, factory workers in Indonesia have no idea what “World” Nike is indeed referring too.
To this day, there are approximately 10,000 workers in the Sukabumi plant comprised mostly of women earning just 50 cents per hour. Wages this low only provide the bare necessities in a frugal indonesian household; food, water, clothes and not much else are afforded on such dismal pay rates. Unfortunately, wages are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the recent controversial allegations set against Nike’s Taiwanese managed factory plants.
Employees are routinely slapped and harassed at the drop of a hat; Called derogatory names such as pig, dog or monkey to Indonesia’s Muslim population. More violent admissions from former employees include being fired for taking sick leave, despite the production of a doctor’s note. It was also reported that 6 female employees were forced to go stand out in the blazing sun when they failed to produce their 60 dozen pairs of shoes quota.
All of this comes in a time in which Nike has pushed such programs as “better world” to help curb public opinion of the brand that has reached #25 on “Interbrand’s Best Global Brands” ranking.
Some of you may recall the news of sweatshops and child labor just ten years ago from this shoe giant. Now, in the light of harsh criticism yet again, is Nike going to bat for it’s employees? Will they risk their bottom lines in a market where everything from factory material handling to worker wages are the lowest in the world?
Not exactly. You see, these are Converse factory plants. Nike acquired the shoe company and all of 168 world-wide factories along with it; of which nearly two-thirds admittedly do not meet Nike’s own standards for contract manufacturers. But Nike is now claiming that due to pre-existng licenses preventing them from inspecting these factories or imposing their working standards, the company cannot influence the Taiwanese managers to become compliant.
This has raised the obvious question – How is it possible that a company with the size and power Nike can be rest powerless amongst their own suppliers?
Does Nike have the market power to influence their supply chain? Only time will tell, but as long as the brand can navigate the stream of public opinion, it is likely they won’t be testing their true strength in these highly profitable developing countries. There has been no further comment on Nike’s corporate site about any plans to address this situation but we can all hope that they may start enacting tougher contract compliance in the new “better world”.
About: Anthony is most notably a freelance writer in the world of branding, from public image to the entrance logo mats of your favorite businesses.