Does #MeToo offer a culture-building opportunity?
Citing the need to support its culture, Nike last week dismissed two executives amid workforce complaints.
Sources told The Wall Street Journal that both executives — Trevor Edwards, Nike Brand president, and Jayme Martin, VP and general manager of global categories for Nike Brand — “protected male subordinates who engaged in behavior that was demeaning to female colleagues.”
In a memo sent to employees last Thursday, CEO Mark Parker wrote that over the last few weeks Nike has become “aware of reports occurring within our organization that do not reflect our core values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment at a time when we are accelerating our transition to the next stage of growth and advance of our culture. This disturbs and saddens me.”
Mr. Parker stated that he was “determined to make the necessary changes so that our culture and our company can evolve and grow.”
Nike is reviewing its internal HR system, and has provided employees with a confidential e-mail and phone number to call if they feel threatened.
At least publicly, the #MeToo movement has largely impacted Hollywood, but its effects are being felt elsewhere.
At retail, Lululemon’s former CEO, Laurent Potdevin, resigned in early March due to an inappropriate relationship with a female designer and accusations of favoritism. Similar to Nike, Glenn Murphy, Lululemon’s executive chairman, said, “Culture is at the core of Lululemon, and it is the responsibility of leaders to set the right tone in our organization.”
Also in February, Guess creative director Paul Marciano stepped down after being accused of harassment by the supermodel Kate Upton.
A February survey of recruiters from Boston recruiting marketplace Scout Exchange found greater interest in hiring and promoting female executives in part due to the #MeToo movement.
But some articles exploring a potential #MeToo backlash have speculated that the movement may hurt female advancement by making males nervous about how to behave around women. Some firms are said to want to avoid complications that can result from a potential inter-office relationship or accusations from a vengeful former staffer.
- Nike Investigates Workplace Complaints, Says No. 2 Executive Resigns – The Wall Street Journal
- Nike president Trevor Edwards resigns as company alludes to workplace issues – ESPN
- Did Nike’s ‘Frat Boy Culture’ Lead to the Departures of Two Executives? – Racked
- lululemon athletica inc. CEO Laurent Potdevin Resigns – Lululemon
- Lululemon CEO left in part because of relationship with female designer at the company – CNBC
- In wake of #MeToo, a growing interest in hiring and promoting female executives – The Boston Globe
- Is #MeToo Backlash Hurting Women’s Opportunities in Finance? – Harvard Business Review
- A male backlash against #MeToo is brewing – New York Post
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What lessons should retailers be taking from the #MeToo movement? What should corporate management do to support female employees?