Essay About Nike


Nike has been a very successful brand, but they have also faced criticism over the years for working conditions in factories. Some of these working conditions include; low hourly wages, long hours, and unsafe working environments. Many people have described Nike manufacturing plants as “sweatshops” and this greatly affects the Company’s image. Nike must improve all these conditions to avoid losing brand reputation and sales.

Many consumers are familiar with the sports brand Nike. It is a global brand that is well established in its market. It was founded in 1964 by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight under the original name “Blue Ribbon Sports.” The company came out as Nike on May 30, 1971. Over the years Nike has been a dominate player in the sports industry. Nike makes billions of dollars a year and is the official supplier for many national sports leagues. Factories were originally in Japan, but they have moved to multiple locations across the globe to capitalize on cheaper labor cost. They do most of their shoe making overseas for this reason and have been questioned by activists over the years that believe Nike was not treating its employees fairly. The amount of hourly pay that these employees were receiving in factories was well under the legal minimum wage and they were working over 60-hour weeks. When looking at the locations of these factories we see that most problems are coming from China and Indonesia. According to an article from thestreet.com, An activist by the name of Jeff Ballinger reported an article that accused Nike of having poor working conditions in Indonesia, along with very unfair pay. This was an eye opener for top management within the company, as they now would have to do something to fix these issues that keep occurring in these factories. [1] 

Nike has been working for many years to improve its factories. On May 18, 1998, one of the founders Phil Knight gave a speech responding to critics. This speech indicated actions that they would be taking to improve the working conditions in their global factories. One of the most important pieces of information was left out of his speech in which he never mentioned he would be paying a living wage, but rather the local minimum wage in the country of operation. This raised a big issue because many people felt that the local minimum wage was not a living wage for people in these countries. [2] Many nations also allowed children to work at the age of 14 and Nike was still allowing this in many of its factories that were overseas. This was also questioned because this would not be allowed in American factories. It seems like in the beginning that Nike said it was going to change its ways but didn’t change them in a way that was socially acceptable in American society. They are trying to find an easy way out by saying they are going to make these changes but are doing the bare minimum when it comes time to make change. 

Since the release of conditions in factories, Nike has been making changes in a positive way. According to an article on businessindsider.com, In 1999 they began the Fair Labor Association, which was a non-profit group that established a code of conduct, minimum age requirement and 60-hour work weeks. In the early 2000's they performed around 600 audits and had continuous visits to problematic factories. These are all moves in the right direction as Nike tries to improve its factories working conditions. Today they are continuously working to provide the best working conditions in factories. Being a dominant player in their market, they must set an example by being better and improving the well-being of their employees.