Sneaker culture is Black culture.
From signature athletes to collaborations to influence in the streets, sneaker culture derives from the Black experience. The last few months have led to an honest discussion about the intersection of race and diversity within the workplace, including footwear juggernaut adidas.
Nike has taken initiative including honoring Juneteenth as a holiday and donating $140 million via Jordan and Nike to organizations that give back to the Black community. Nike is clear on its mission to do more for the Black community both within the company and abroad.
Allegations have emerged at Nike as an anonymous Instagram account, Black At Nike, has become a vessel for former and current employees to speak out about their alleged experiences through complete anonymity.
“Many have been suffering in silence, alone. Many have been laid off due to retaliation. Many feel like they should just shut up and work, in fear of not being able to thrive in the corporate system. This account is to finally give these people a voice and to share their stories,” said the owner of the account in an interview with Nice Kicks.
The goal for the account is to allow POC at Nike to come forward and know that they’re not alone.
“This account is also for the masses at Nike who have benefitted from these racial prejudices against Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous employees, and either had no idea it was happening, were too scared to speak up, or were too self-centered to care,” the account owner added.
A Nike spokesperson issued Nice Kicks the following statement:
“We’re at our best when every member of the team feels respected, included, and heard – when everyone can show up fully as themselves and have the opportunity to do their best work every day,” they said.
“Everyone is responsible for adhering to Nike’s Matter of Respect policy, which explicitly prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race. If there are behaviors that violate this, employees have a number of ways to flag and ensure that the behaviors don’t go unchecked. This includes raising the issue with managers, or if employees prefer, they can use the Speak Up portal, or speak directly with HR, HR Direct or Employee Relations,” they added.
“In the past year, Nike increased VP-level representation for U.S. underrepresented groups by two percentage points to 21%. While this is good progress, we know there is more work to do. We will continue to increase representation and strengthen our culture of belonging,” they also added.
Below are some of the allegations featured on the Instagram account.
The @BlackAtNike account has been taken down as of the late afternoon on July 15. Nike denies being involved, according to Footwear News.
As a WOC working in Nike Sports Marketing, I experienced microaggressions, disrespect, and retaliation for speaking up. I was given the advice that if I wanted to find a new role in a department of interest, I should become someone’s administrative assistant in that area (instead of trying for something I was more qualified for). – quote obtained via Black at Nike
Some of the management staff at Nike Boston used to have a code for when young black men walked into the store. – quote obtained via Black at Nike