HRM410: Strategic Staffing

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Week 2: Nike is Losing its Race for Diversity

The Nike swoosh is well recognized on sports shoes, clothing, and accessories and has been touted for its efforts to promote diversity. For example, Nike’s CEO Mark Parker believes that diversity leads to creativity and innovation and wants all employees to realize their potential. Nike’s website mentions that “We Believe in the Inspirational Power of Sport to Break Down Barriers, Overcome Differences, and Bring People Together.” Nike’s “Equality” ad campaign featuring athletes LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Serena Williams, Victor Cruz, Gabby Douglas, Megan Rapinoe, and Dalilah Muhammad emphasizes that everyone should have opportunities based on personal actions—not their skin color or nationality. Also, Nike is one of a small number of companies that have been transparent about the diversity of its workforce by making statistics publicly available.

But Nike has fallen short of creating a true culture of diversity and inclusion. Although Nike’s workforce has almost equal numbers of men and women, only 29 percent of its vice presidents are women. People of color make up more than half of Nike’s workforce, yet only 24 percent hold director positions. Also, there are signs that the work environment may be toxic and unsupportive of women and people of color. Current and former employees have come forward with complaints of inappropriate work behavior and sexual harassment. Some employees even claim that the human resource department has ignored or dismissed employees’ complaints of mistreatment and harassment. Before the previous head of HR retired, he was investigated for allegations that he created a hostile work environment.

In a recent memo sent to employees, a current top human resource executive expressed concerns about the representation of women and people of color in top leadership positions. She admitted that although Nike has tried to increase the representation of women and people of color in senior management positions, progress in doing so has been too slow. She believes that the company needs to make major changes in how it manages inclusion and diversity.


  1. What could be responsible for the lack of women and people of color in top management positions at Nike?
  2. What actions should Nike take to accelerate the movement of women and people of color into director positions?
  3. As Nike’s CEO, what can Mark Parker personally do to help prepare women and people of color to move into leadership positions?
  4. Can training help Nike have a more diverse management and leadership team? Explain and discuss your position.


After making your first post, engage with your colleagues about their ideas.


Sources: Based on S. Germano, “Nike Concedes Hiring Failures,” The Wall Street Journal (April 5, 2018), p. B4; “Diversity & Inclusion,” “Nike by the Numbers” from Links to an external site., accessed April 5, 2018; E. Frauenheim, “Why Nike’s Diversity Disclosure Is Just the First Step” (May 16, 2016), from, accessed April 5, 2018; and K. D’Onofrio, “Nike Ad Touts Equality But Has None On Board, Executive Committee, or Even Its Ad Agency” (February 14, 2017), from, accessed April 5, 2018.



Noe, R. (2019). Employee Training & Development (8th Edition). McGraw-Hill Higher Education (US).


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